POST SUMMARY: Apple VP of Worldwide Marketing Communication Allison Johnson said the two most “dreaded, hated” words at Apple under Steve Jobs were “branding” and “marketing. “In Steve’s mind,” she recalls, “people associated brands with television advertising and commercials and artificial things. The most important thing was people’s relationship to the product. So any time we said ‘brand’ it was a dirty word.”
Apple is not a great marketing company, they are a great product company. All Apple has to do is announce new products and customers gladly wait on line for them. While the PC industry struggles Apple is still selling a hell of a lot iMac’s and MacBook’s.
I am an Apple person. I have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone. Their products provide a great brand experience as does their online support, but in the past Apple has not been too transparent about product issues such as yellow iMac screens and a bad antenna design for the iPhone. Still, consumers wait hours for a chance to get a new Apple product and their margins rank as the highest in the industry.
Now compare Apple with Sony. Sony used to be a great product company, but they lost focus on what made them great and missed some key opportunities by misreading the market. It was often hard to get support for Sony products and frankly there wasn’t a good reason to pay a premium for the Sony brand anymore.
Wile marketing and branding were words Steve Jobs didn’t want to hear I would suggest that other brands can’t get away with that philosophy. They have to execute on everything from great products to great marketing to entice consumers to become customers. Nike might have a great running shoe, but so do New Balance and Asics.
Johnson says that “marketing is when you have to sell to somebody. If you aren’t providing value, if you’re not educating them about the product, if you’re not helping them get the most out of the product, you’re selling. And you shouldn’t be in that mode.” Some products do provide value, but I would argue that value is not enough today for skeptical consumers.