Apple and Google. They are respectively the number-one and number-two brands in the world, according to BrandZ’s ranking of the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands of 2011. Compared to other brands in the top-10 — such as IBM (1911), McDonald’s (1940), Coca-Cola (1886), and Marlboro (1924) — Apple (1976) and Google (1998) are relatively new brands. So, how did they come to dominate the world?
At the center of brand building is creating an idea in the mind of a consumer that his life will be improved should they buy your brand. This is what industry jargon terms as the “value proposition.” However, Apple and Google have gone beyond simple value proposition and have built products that consumers feel they can’t live without. They reinforce this “life-altering” benefit through simple, yet powerful, advertising.
See for yourself with one of Apple’s advertisements for the iPhone 4S and Google’s “Dear Sophie” campaign. Both commercials are simple in their execution, which allows them to masterfully drive home the value proposition built into their brands. The truly genius aspect of the brand advertising is that it injects their products into the consumer's life through the timeless technique of “demonstrations.”
As I wrote in “Why Apple Can Get Away With Murder,” Apple and Google didn’t build their brands through things like product quality or the exclusion-factor inherent in luxury goods. Google offers many of their products for free, and there isn’t an Apple product launch that isn’t followed by days of consumer gripes about build quality or battery life. Apple and Google built their brands on the idea that their products were not like anything else, and that your life is made significantly better by their use.
Small-business owners with struggling brands may look to Apple and Google and say, “Well I could never do that. They have the most brilliant minds in marketing, and a massive advertising budget, to help them stay at the top.” While this may be true now, it wasn’t always like that. Apple began in the family garage of Steve Jobs, and Google started out as a PhD research project.
Brands with larger advertising budgets than most companies gross in an entire year, who hire the best and brightest from Madison Avenue, have failed miserably in launching new products or even keeping their current brand alive.
The key to Apple and Google’s success was building products that set themselves apart from all other competitors and provided benefits to consumers that they cannot now ever live without. Does your brand do that? If not, focus on how you can get it there, then align your entire organization behind that idea.