So let me guess.
You probably own either a Mac, iPhone, or iPad right? No? (Whispering under my breath, “LOSER!”) Just kidding, Microsoft fanboys. I’m not part of the Mac cult. I just use products that serve my needs best (I currently use a Macbook and an Andriod phone).
Anyway, let’s get back on topic before I find myself getting into the whole Mac vs PC thing. Where was I? Oh yea, chances are most of your own either a Mac, iPhone or iPad. (If you don’t own any Apple products, please read on. This article will help you whether you own Apple products or not).
So let me ask you Apple product owners a question: Why did you buy an Apple product and not a product from another brand like say, Samsung? For most people, it’s probably down to these 3 reasons:
- It’s cool to own an Apple product.
- Apple products are fun and easy to use.
- Apple products are beautifully designed.
All valid reasons of course. But did you notice the common theme among the reasons above?
None of them has of anything to do with the technical aspects of the product.
Whether you realise it or not, all the above reasons converge at one simple fact – We buy Apple products mostly because of the EMOTIONS associated with them.
Because let’s face it … most of us are not tech geeks. We might know about some tech stuff here and there, but honestly, most of us didn’t buy Apple products because they have better functions.
In fact, if you look at reviews of smart phones by real tech experts, you’ll find many of them conclude that Samsung phones are actually better than iPhones in terms of specs. (I know some passionate Apple fans will disagree, but for the sake of explaining my point in this blog post, let’s just assume the tech experts are right).
So… Why despite the fact that Samsung’s phones are technically better, does Apple still achieve massive sales figures EVERY time they launch a new iPhone, or in fact ANY of their products, even though they are always more expensive?
Why do we feel such strong emotions that compel us to buy Apple products over products from other brands? Branding man, branding. While many factors account for Apple’s success, there’s no doubt that Branding is one of the most important factor. You didn’t really care if Samsung was better value for money, or if Samsung has slightly better specs.
You just wanted the iPhone because it’s “programmed” into your mind that the iPhone is cooler, better, and makes you more classy. Apple’s brand wins.
That’s the power of a good brand, which Apple has spent a lot of money building over the years.
So what if I told you that you too can build an irresistible brand, without even spending anywhere close to the amount that Apple spends? Don’t believe me?
Oh how little faith in me you have, my dear reader. Building a brand on the internet on the cheap IS possible, if you know how. Of course, I’m not suggesting that all businesses can reach the level of influence and impact that Apple has achieved. But…
That doesn’t mean you can’t still build a strong brand nonetheless, and at a low cost too. All you have to do is translate some of Apple’s branding secrets to the online world.
Let me show you how, you skeptical person. Apple’s 5 branding secrets and how you can apply them online.
Secret #1: Create a unique business persona – Declare your beliefs, make enemies, and attract loyal friends
Apple created a “person” to represent their brand, and this “person” is portrayed by the young, cool guy who is savvy and smart. The PC on the other hand, is portrayed as someone who is nerdy and uncool. When you buy an Apple product, you buy into their identity.
You identify yourself as the savvy and cool guy. Creating a business persona for your brand helps you attract loyal prospects who share your values, beliefs and opinions.
How to apply it online: 3 words – Personified Content Marketing.
I know you’ve never heard of this term before. That’s because I made it up like a boss. I’ll explain. Never has there been a time where one could create a piece of content and distribute it for the world to see. What better way to show people what your business is about at a low cost?
Content marketing is the foundation of branding online. It is the voice of your brand. It shows people who you are and why they should buy from you.
Merely writing content for the sake of writing content is stupid. VERY stupid. Everyone is “just writing content” thinking it will bring them more business.
If it were really that simple every website would be successful by now. But you, being the smart guy you are, can use content to brand yourself online.
I call it Personified Content Marketing – content marketing that displays your beliefs and values, creates enemies, and attracts loyal fans. So how do you do Personified Content Marketing?
If you want to show people what you brand is about through your content, you must first understand who your target market is, analyse your competitors, and then decide on the unique positioning you want to take.
Here’s why. Your brand is the emotions, thoughts, and visual memories your prospects have of your business. Your brand resides inside your prospect’s mind. ALWAYS remember that.
It doesn’t matter what you think or feel about your business. It’s what you prospects think and feel that counts. That’s why if you want to build a good brand, you have to start from your prospects mind! What is your prospect thinking about you, your competitors, and the market in general?
How can you differentiate yourself, and show them through your content? Once you understand this, you can create your “business’ person” and drive your sales through the roof by attracting a horde of loyal customers.
Write manifestos, blog posts, create videos, and etc, to declare your beliefs, values, and educate your prospects about your brand. Don’t be boring.
Don’t be afraid to state your opinions and show your attitude about things going on in your market. Don’t be afraid you show what your brand stands for. Talk to your prospects only, and ignore the rest. When you do that, you WILL repel some prospects.
But on the other hand, you WILL also attract raving customers. And once momentum builds, the less appealed people might just join the gang. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to appeal to everyone. Appeal to everyone and you will appeal to no one.
Secret #2: Sell experiences, not products
Apple doesn’t sell products. They sell experiences.
They constantly reinforce how easy and enjoyable it is to use their products, how their software is beautifully designed for the best user experience, how their hardware is beautifully designed so it feels cool to own a Mac. They don’t talk a lot about the technical aspects of the product.
They talk about experiences. And it’s not only about the product. Apple is also well known for outstanding customer service. They consistently rank top for customer service in the industry. All these contribute to the ultimate Apple experience. When you buy an Apple product, you feel good about it.
You have a great experience.
How to apply it online: Create superior user interfaces, user experiences, and infuse copy with emotions. Make your web interface easy for people to do what they came to do.
If you’re an eCommerce site, make it easy for people to find the products they want, order them, and then checkout smoothly.
If you’re running a blog, make the reading experience superb by having good typography and by making good use of white space.
If you sell software, make the interface is easy and enjoyable to use. When customers email you for support, ensure your customer service serve their needs quickly, politely, and efficiently. When you write copy for your products, infuse an emotional component in your web copy to portray the experience your prospect will get after he buys your product.
Sell the experience.
Secret #3: Design for brand identity
Apple products are sleek and beautiful. That’s because they want to differentiate themselves from the typical nerdy, technical look that most other products had. I can confidently say that design alone can be the sole buying factor for some customers.
I have friends who buy a Mac just because it looks better than other computers. How to apply it online: Invest in design that portrays your brand.
If your brand is rebellious and bold, then you probably want your web design to have striking colors and bold fonts. If your brand is all about simplicity, then you probably want a more minimalistic design.
A great example of design that matches brand identity is the hugely popular blog, ZenHabits, run by Leo Babauta.
Since the blog talks about finding simplicity in our lives, focusing on things that matter, and finding happiness, it’s design is extremely minimalistic, and only allows you to view one post at a time.
ZenHabit’s web design is in line with its brand and this alignment contributes to the overall identity of the blog. Good design is an INVESTMENT not an expense, on your overall brand identity. Design sells. Pure and simple.
Secret #4: Tell your story and give your “reason why”
Do know the story behind Apple’s “Think Different” tagline? You don’t? Shame on you! Anyway… it is about Apple’s belief that people who were crazy enough to change the world are the people who actually do.
Apple honoured people with passion and wanted to create the tools to help passionate people change the world. Therefore, they advocate the notion of “Think Different.”
Inspiring isn’t it?
Compare Apple’s story to another company without a story, and that only says things like, “We have more megabytes than you, so we are the bestest of the bestest best.”
Telling a story is inspiring. More importantly, it tells people the “reason why” for your existence. Providing a “reason why” for your existence draws people to you. The people who believe in your purpose will like you and become loyal customers.
How you can apply it online: Find your “reason why” and tell your story on your ABOUT page. Not many people realise this, but the about page is a very important piece of internet real estate.
In fact, it’s probably the most underused page I’ve ever seen. A lot of your visitors will click on your About page to find out more about you.
Use your About page to state the reason why your company exists. Don’t just tell people about your features and benefits. People want to be part of a higher purpose, and connect with people of similar values.
Tell your STORY. State your PURPOSE. Be INSPIRING. Your ideal customers will come flocking to you.
Secret #5: Stay consistent
No matter where you experience Apple, they are always consistent with their brand. They reflect the same values in their ads, marketing campaigns, customer service, products, design, and etc.
Their brand gets STUCK in our heads. When we think of Apple, we immediately feel all the emotions associated with them. It’s all instant. That’s the power of consistency.
How to apply it online: Ensure that you stay true to your brand values across all touchpoints.
Your entire web presence is a form of brand communication online. Everything from social media, customer support, emails, landing pages, web design, logo design, and all other touchpoints matters.
After some time, your prospects will “get you” and know you for who you are. Staying consistent is the way to penetrate your brand into your prospects’ mind.
And… That’s it. Whew. This one was a tough blog post to write, but I’m glad I wrote it because I think more businesses need to put more emphasis on branding, especially since you can do it at a fraction of what it would normally cost for traditional advertising. Now go. You now have the techniques to create a great brand at low cost.
Create your brand and win.