Earlier in May, Forbes published the 2016 edition of their annual study into of the world’s most valuable brands. The front-runner, Apple, came as no surprise to most considering this was their sixth consecutive year in the top spot. Despite a less-than-desirable revenue growth in April, the tech giant still outpaced other brands with a value of $154.1 billion.
The top ten, as reported by Forbes, is as follows:
- Apple: Brand value $154.1 billion
- Google: Brand value $82.5 billion
- Microsoft: Brand value $75.2 billion
- Coca-Cola: Brand value $58.5 billion
- Facebook: Brand value $52.6 billion
- Toyota: Brand value $42.1 billion
- IBM: Brand value $41.4 billion
- Disney: Brand value $39.5 billion
- McDonald’s: Brand value $39.1 billion
- General Electric: Brand value $36.7 billion
The question we have to ask is this: how are these brands the most valuable in the world?
Perceived value—the customer's evaluation of the benefits and costs of one brand compared to others—is a primary factor as to why the world’s most valuable brands are so successful. What makes it important from a company perspective is that customers may be willing to pay a higher price because they deem the brand as high quality or status achieving.
When laid bare, Apple phones are not that distinct from the rival Samsung gadget, which accounts as to why the two companies are always in one tiff or another. However, Apple can price their technology more than 2x what their competitors charge and not even break a sweat. Why? Because Apple has built one of the most hardcore fan bases ever, one that will gladly pay a premium because of the perceived value attached to Apple products.
Branding lessons from Apple
It’s hard to find a more inspirational branding success story than Apple. Founded by two college dropouts, the brand's expansion into various industries and new services such as Apple Pay helped to propel Apple into becoming America’s first $700 billion company. Moreover, it is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.
Apple’s iconic branding strategy has always focussed on emotion. The brand does not just forge intimate connections with its customers, but it is adored in return. Building upon the emotions we feel while discovering, owning, and using Apple products, the brand capitalizes on the lifestyle, imagination, passion, innovation, empowerment and aspirations of Apple users.
Steve Jobs once said that “The chance to make a memory is the essence of brand marketing.” By engaging emotion and not just reason, Apple forged that connection to create a memorable identity.
Customers are more likely to remember — and purchase - products and services that make them feel good
Are you familiar with the term unboxing? Put simply, unboxing is when consumers record the actual process of unwrapping their newly purchased Apple products. Why? Because the products make them feel good.
Unboxing videos offer an unvarnished and honest peek at products, while positioning the unboxer in a central position within a brand’s community. No one tells these people to create these videos, but Apple facilitates a user experience that expands way past the purchase stage, which is why if you search for unboxing videos in YouTube, you can find an array of media with a somewhat staggering view count.
Credit: David Di Franco: https://www.youtube.com/user/thecreativeone
The momentous following of the Apple brand does, of course, present the organization with a formidable reputation to live up to. All technology-leading products which Apple delivers are not only designed to match the brand promise but are fundamental to keeping Apple so profitable.
So, how does Apple incorporate customer experience into branding? They put the customer at the heart of everything they do. Take their ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign for example, not only does it showcase the sheer versatility of the iPhone camera, but it features utterly charming videos shot by real people.
Offering their customers the chance at being part of something huge—the first installment of the campaign was seen at least 6.5 billion different times—Shot on iPhone successfully coupled human emotion with real product benefits. Showing how their products fit people's lives, the campaign reinforces the brand pillars of Apple and further solidifies the emotional connection with the audience.
The importance of emotion in brand loyalty
No matter how entertaining or creative your branding campaigns are, without leveraging the emotional aspects of your products, your marketing strategy may fall to resonate with your audience.
By creating an emotional connection with its customers, Apple has acquired a loyal following, and there's no doubt that brand loyalty has played a huge part in its global success. When we asked famed tech Vlogger David Di Franco about what the brand meant to him, this is what he had to say:
“Ever since switching to the Mac in 2004, I knew there was something about Apple that really connected with me on a personal level. From the consistency in their product designs to the passion behind what they stand for, Apple has quickly become one of my favorite brands of all time. And honestly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m now an Apple fan for life.”
- David Di Franco: Creative Tech Vlogger and Apple Aficionado @DavidDiFranco
So what is the key to brand loyalty? Firstly, you have to be trustworthy and transparent with all your communications. Second, you have to stop telling people about what your company makes or provides, and instead, communicate what your organization believes in to connect with your target market.
Apple’s mission statement focuses on just that, and reads: “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.”
Apple’s global branding success owes a lot to its inspiring mission statement simply because it resonates throughout each and every part of its operations. With this in mind, ask yourself this; what makes my brand tick? If you’re a travel company, you don’t want to put messages out there that just say ‘We organize holidays!’
If you want brand loyalty, do as Apple did and emotionally connect with your customers and start a movement that you believe in. The rest will certainly follow.
The 2017 edition of Forbes' list welcomed Amazon into the top ten. If you want to know how the online giant successfully disrupted the retail market one afro dog wig at a time, read all about it, here.