This audit takes into consideration Apple’s branding and analyse it by assuming that Apple adopts an umbrella branding strategy. It will take into account Apple’s main products and other related products that have emerged with the passage of time and as the company identified opportunities that could potentially be filled by its present line of products. During the process of audit, an attempt will be made to identify the shortcomings that the chosen brand manifests, which will later be used to develop a plan that can contribute to overcoming the shortcomings, identified earlier. The audit will consider brand inventory and brand exploratory of Apple to enlighten the reader about the various perceptions that prevail regarding the chosen brand.
Since its inception in 1976, Apple has demonstrated a growth that most other organizations only dream to achieve. From being a small business that was more or less limited to the manufacturing and sales of personal computers, Apple has become a giant, not only at the national level, but also at international level. Apple has struggled hard to achieve a unique branding position at the international level and in the process, it has managed to develop a common perception among consumers that it manufactures products of supreme quality that surpass the expectations of users. Not only has Apple achieved this, it has managed to present itself as a brand that is different from all other brands that produce and market similar products.
Taking a look at the logo of Apple brand reveals that it adopts a single color; an approach that changed after several years of company’s operation. The logo has remained the same after that. The logo displays an apple, with a bite taken from it. The logo is reflective of the high quality that this brand produces and once a person who is aware of the reputation of this brand sees this logo, s/he immediately associates it with high quality. The logo has become a symbol of extremely finest products in the electronic world (Rohan, 2016).
As far as packaging is concerned, Apple makes use of simple white colored boxes that carry very little information, other than the name of product, a colored picture and a few lines that explain the origin of product. Perhaps this simplicity is intentionally adopted to spark a feeling of curiosity that forces a person to open the product at the earliest. In other words, by choosing to provide little information on the product package, Apple successfully drags peoples’ attention towards the product itself, thereby making the opening of boxes a memorable experience that they may remember for extended periods of time (McElhearn, 2015).
The use of slogans is very interesting when Apple as a brand is taken into consideration. With the launch of new products, Apple makes use of a single line slogans to convince people about the value of their products. A simple line like “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”, is crafted to convey what the product delivers; but details are not provided to arouse curiosity, which forces potential buyers to question or buy the product.
Apple chooses to communicate its message wisely and it appears that a lot of work goes into communicating the message that is crafted with extreme care. For many other brands, it is a common approach to use celebrities for endorsements; thereby convincing consumers to buy products. Apple seems to disagree with this notion and instead adopts a strategy to seek a relationship with its consumers. Apple makes use of the least number of words and delivers those words in an extremely clever fashion. Its message portrays how special Apple products are and how they provide value to the consumers (Mattu, 2015). Since, Apple creates a sense of superiority among its users, it propagates ideas like “I am a Mac, I am a PC”, to inform its user that they can become superior if they use Apple products.
Another important aspect of the Apple brand is the pricing strategy that it adopts. Since Apple targets the elite segment of society, it always keeps its prices higher (Bastien, 2015). But this should not give the message that Apple’s products are only priced high; they are in fact made of supreme quality, which allows the company to charge prices that are considerably higher than equivalent products. Consequently, Apple promises to deliver unique style that suits perfectly to the needs of the elites. Hence, its pricing strategy is always a success, which is manifested by the amount of sales that are generated when new products are released.
Marketing and Delivery
Taking a look at how Apple delivers its products to consumers reveals that it makes use of multiple resources to achieve this. The use of its website, its Apps store, iTunes store, major retailers like Wal-Mart and dedicated Apple outlets located in various markets around the world are some of the means through which Apple products are distributed. Apple’s products are put on display at Apple outlets and they are available for use by potential buyers before they make their purchase decisions. Apple uses this opportunity to enhance its branding as consumers are more convinced after having first-hand experience of using Apple product at Apple outlets. Due to the use of multitude channels Apple successfully eliminates distances that may prevent its potential buyers from purchasing its products.
Taking a look at Apple’s competitors is important to understand how Apple performs against other important brands operating in the same market segment. It appears that many other well-known and established brands like Samsung, Blackberry, Dell and Microsoft create a challenging situation in the electronic market for Apple. Samsung appears to be at the forefront of this challenge as during the recent past enthusiasts of both brands witnessed legal struggle between both entities. Samsung is regarded as a brand that sells products that contain abundant features, most, of which are easy-to-use and loved by users. Consequently, Samsung’s focus in promotional campaigns revolves around specifications and richness of features. However, Apple’s competition with Samsung is more or less limited to the Smart phone area.
Another important product that Apple’s umbrella covers is the personal computer. As far as Apple’s competition in the personal computers market is concerned, Microsoft appears to be a strong opponent in this field. Microsoft’s operating system by the name of Windows is extremely famous due to its simplicity and availability throughout the world. The number of Windows users far exceed that of Apple’s operating system, which is only usable on Apple’s own computers and devices. A brief overview of POPs and PODs is given below:
Apple vs. Samsung
Smartphone devices manufacturing
Smart phone users market
Application based functioning of devices
Display colors and quality
Hardware and software
Target population segment (elite vs middle class)
Touch screen technology
Ease of use
Range of products
Apple vs. Microsoft
Range of products
Target Computer users
Target Smart phone users
Hardware and software
Easy of use
Compatibility with other machines
Targeted population segment
Personal computer manufacturing
Prior research studies about Apple’s branding are suggestive of the fact that users of Apple products perceive the company to be innovative, which provides them products that are extremely useful and very convenient to use (Gobeli and Brown, 1987). Apple primarily focuses on markets where it capable of making significant contributions, while ignoring those where its impact cannot possibly be significant (Smith et al, 1993). Research reveals that Apple’s vision is in alignment with the expectations of consumers; hence, it states “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings” (Zhang et al, 2004).
Apple, as a brand, instead of struggling for shelf space or position in retail stores, adopts a vertically integrated approach, in which it presents itself as not only the manufacturer of personal computers, but also a manufacturer of all related operating systems, hardware, user interface and the electronic parts that are used in their machines. Hence, unlike other companies that manufacture machines but are dependent upon others from softwares, Apple produces everything by itself; an aspect that is appreciated by consumers (Johnson et al, 2012).
Using a mind map to portray what comes to the mind of a consumer when s/he is exposed to Apple’s brand is interesting since it provides insight into an outsider’s perspective. A mental map of Apple brand is given below:
As far as brand awareness of Apple is concerned, it is regarded as being “top of mind awareness (Hakala et al, 2012). This stems from positive customer experiences coupled with various unique brand elements that help customer recognize and recall Apple with convenience. Apple’s favorability is so enhanced that users of Apple products are often regarded as displaying ‘blind loyalty’ due to their positive experiences (Kelly, 2014). Additionally, although Apple continues to introduce more and more products under its umbrella brand, it has managed to maintain consistent brand associations in users’ minds. This has been made possible by production of a consistently superior quality for the consumers. Consequently, it is safe to assert that the depth of Apple’s brand awareness is very high and people can easily recall this brand. Also important to consider is the breadth of brand awareness, which in the case of Apple is very high, since Apple products are thought of as possible solutions to a number of problems in real life (Fitzsimons et al, 2008).
An interesting aspect of Apple’s brands equity is that by creating positive experiences and by maintaining top of mind awareness, Apple now possesses customer based brand equity (Burmann et al, 2009). This directly translates into brand loyalty. Of the four parameters that help people judge a brand, Apple stands tall in all; these include superiority, credibility, quality and consideration. Hence, owning an Apple product bestows a feeling of satisfaction and pride.
A SWOT analysis of the Apple brand is given below:
- Market leader in manufacturing computers and smartphones
- Extremely strong brand image that portrays innovations and supreme quality
- Financially strong
- Extremely loyal customers
- Effective supply chain
- Easy access to brand’s products
- Unusually high profit margins
- Manufacturer of hardware & software
- Very high prices as compared to competitors
- Apple products incompatibility with most other brands available in the market
- Limited number of products under the Apple umbrella
- Technical issues and lack of workforce that can handle them
- Latest products demonstrate diminishing trends of innovation
- Latest products almost similar to previous releases; limited improvements.
- Apple’s executive changed recently; working strategy of the brand changed from innovation to ‘protection’ of what has already been achieved.
- Promotion and marketing of products limited to certain regions of the world only.
- Exploring new markets worldwide
- Further diversification of products
- Forming partnerships with other brands
- Increasing product compatibility with products of other brands
- Further research for new product development and innovation
- Emerging new softwares and technology giants. E.g. Android and Google.
- Low priced products of competitors
- Feature-rich computing devices from other brands.
- Already prevailing widespread access of other brands to many world markets
- Changing perception about Apple’s brand after Steve Job’s death.
Keeping in view the strengths and shortcomings mentioned earlier, it can be inferred that certain areas need improvement for which the available strengths can be utilized to overcome deficiencies. An important consideration in this regard is the improvement that can be introduced in Apple’s personal computers line. Although the company produces extremely reliable computing machines, their lack of compatibility with other machines renders them useless and less efficient in certain settings.
At present, the Apple brand appears to be totally dissociated from all other brands of computers. A lot of information about Apple computing machines is confidential and for this reason manufacturers of other computers are unable to develop machines that are compatible with Apple machines. Another disadvantage of this approach is that even loyal users of Apple machines find themselves in a difficult situation if the need to repair an Apple computer arises. The reason is a lack of qualified personnel that can handle repairs appropriately.
Another important aspect is the inability to repair an Apple computer. Besides, it is impossible to upgrade Apple computing machines. These aspects function as the limiting factors due to which a number of potential buyers hesitate to buy Apple machines. If the option to upgrade and a design that can allow repairs is marketed, chances are that the sale of Apple computers will increase significantly and will also contribute to brand enhancement.
Keeping in view the brand status that Apple enjoys in the market of computing machines, it is safe to assert that any new move by Apple computers regarding stretching its computer line will be appreciated significantly by its enthusiasts. The prevailing status of Mac machines is such that they continue to generate optimum amount of revenue for the company, despite the fact that very little changes are introduced to the new machines that are launched. Consequently, Apple is in a position to capitalize on its prevailing brand position to introduce a new line of computers that could fulfill the deficiencies mentioned earlier.
This new line of computers should possess the following features, to ensure that the brand maintains its prevailing position in the market.
- A new line with absolutely no association to the prevailing Mac computers.
- Prices comparatively lower than their Mac counterparts.
- New machines should have a totally different, open architecture to enable other manufacturers develop compatible machines.
- New computers should be repairable by ordinary repair personnel, who can and do repair computers of other manufacturers.
- Promotion of such computers should be carried out internationally.
- The electronic components of new machines should be such that up gradation should be a possibility. Apple itself should market components needed for up gradation. No third party should be allowed to manufacture such components to maintain superior quality.
- Although this line of computers should use a different operating software designed by Apple; it should be compatible with all other operating systems. Apple should provide upgrades of the softwares at regular intervals.
- Dedicated Apps for this line of computers should be developed and made available online.
The launch of this line of computers should be carried out in a manner that is similar to the launch of other Apple products. The product packaging should carry the same logo that appears on the packing of all Apple products. Two main factors that are expected to contribute to the success of this line of computers are 1) comparatively lower prices and 2) Apple’s brand. The lower price of computers is likely to attract the market segment that is unable to purchase expensive Mac machines due to lack of pocket power.
An attractive slogan like “Apple is now everyone’s machine” should be able to grasp the attention of every computer user. A sentence of this type will convey dual meanings; first, it will inform the reader that the machine has a price that anyone can pay; second, it will convey a message that the new machines are so adaptable and compatible that they can meet everyone’s requirements. In order to make sure that people maintain their confidence in Apple brand, the new line of computers should only be available in dedicated Apple outlets, where they should be on display just like Mac machines, but separately.
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