A$200 billion and climbing

define your brand with your customer

This is the third of 10 ‘BEST OF THOUGHTS’ from the more than 200 THOUGHTS published in 2018.

The Professor of Clinical Marketing at NYU, and one of the world’s leading experts on branding, recently predicted that 10 years from now there will only be two categories of brand – luxury and retail. He predicted the end of branding as we know it. That said, there is still considerable merit in building a strong brand – whether it be personal, product, or corporate.

So, how do you build the optimal brand?

Apple is often cited as the world’s most valuable brand. Estimates put the tech giant’s brand value at A$200 billion. Put differently, if you wanted to buy Apple (and were able to do so) the ‘goodwill’ component of the sale price would be somewhere in excess of A$200 billion.

The Apple brand has been built over many years on the back of Apple’s core values. Way back in 1984, Steve Jobs said, “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So, we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us”.

Optimal brands are not developed by advertising agents, marketing managers, or board members working in isolation with their own needs and wants in mind. Optimal brands reflect the aspirations of the market and ensure an alignment of values.

In articulating the values that underpin the Apple brand, Tim Cook recently noted that Apple believes:

  • That we are on the face of the earth to make great products.
  • In the simple, not the complex.
  • That we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
  • We should participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
  • In saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
  • In deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
  • We must not settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we are wrong and the courage to change.

These values have been developed after close consultation with Apple’s primary target markets.
Research and the consumer understanding it affords underpin the values and branding of Apple. It serves to reflect the ethos articulated in the book by Roy Spence, entitled – ‘It’s not what you sell, but what you stand for’. It will, ultimately, maximise sales, margins, and profits.


Define your brand in consultation with your primary target market and base it on their needs ahead of your intuition.

Lose the arrogance that causes you to think that your intuition is a sound basis for brand definition.
Base your brand on values and ensure that those values align with those of your primary target markets.
Put the facts ahead of gut feelings, habit, and guesswork.


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