Mar 10, 2015 Written by  Matt Kingerlee
Are you looking for ways to build your business' brand and increase sales? 

There is no better place to start than by analysing the factors that contributed to the success of the world's biggest brand, Apple Inc.

So, what strategies did Apple use to build their brand and stock so high and what lessons can we learn from them?

What lessons can your business learn from the world's biggest brand?

1.     Reach new levels of engagement

Steve Jobs once defined Apple’s brand approach by saying, “We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and ask: ‘What do we want?” Apple identifies and empathises with their users and looks ahead to what customers will want in the future. This approach has enabled Apple to release revolutionary products such as the iPhone, and to create arguably the most useable and intuitive operating systems ever.

Lesson for small business:

Small businesses have the advantage of being able to form close relationships with clients. Take the opportunity to ‘walk in your clients’ shoes’ and engage them above and beyond expectations by providing a level of service that your competitors do not. Don’t just offer one product in one way, build loyalty through membership programs, or add value through extra services in your corner of the market.

2.     Be a market leader, not a follower

Innovation has always been Apple’s focus. Apple has consistently worked to create market leading products: it was at the forefront of personal computing, revolutionised mp3 players, transformed smartphones, pioneered the iPad, and is forecast to popularise mobile payment with Apple Pay. This has allowed the company to attract early adopters and become known as a true thought leader.

Lessons for small business:

Although small businesses can be intimidated by the prospect of daunting research and development costs in product innovation, being small has its advantages too. The smaller you are, the faster you can pivot and leave the cumbersome giants in your wake. Keep your fingers to the pulse of your market and offer what no one else can.

3. Stay prominent and consistent

Apple’s brand is instantly recognisable because of the logo’s prominent placement consistently across the range, and the consistent use of lower case ‘i’ prefacing the name of each product. On a deeper level, Apple expresses their brand values in every individual product and business operation, ensuring a strong brand resonance with their clients.

Lessons for small business:

Express your brand values consistently through all marketing communications; be a prominent industry leader and make yourself known. You don’t need to plaster your logo all over everything, but ensure you are easily recognisable: your customers can’t recommend you if they don’t know who you are.

4. Stand apart from your competitors

From the beginning, Apple has been separating itself from its competitors. The eccentric Steve Jobs came up with the name Apple Computers after working in an orchard for several months. Apple stands apart from all other technology firms and this has allowed them to stand above them.

Lessons for small business:

You can’t become a market leader by offering the same product in the same way as your competitors. Find your business’ point of difference, and a memorable way of communicating this. Remember that your customers are fulfilling a want rather than just buying a product.

5. Avoid being the cheap option

Apple has been able to maintain a price premium for its products, and has successfully avoided a price ‘race to the bottom’. Apple has done this through positioning their products as premium, or luxury, which has driven demand from aspirational buyers, who prioritise style and status, as well as technological functionality.

Lessons for small business:

It may be tempting to offer your product cheaper than all of your competitors to create your point of difference, but remember that less than 10% of any market buys based solely on price. Don’t undervalue your products and cut into your profit margins; ask for a fair price for quality products. And if circumstances require you to offer your product cheaply, also offer an expensive option to make it seem like even better value.

Apple Inc. built a brand valued at $118b. While this is a lofty goal for most businesses, if you strive to become a leader in your market, who knows what may follow.  

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