Apple Inc. has come a long way since its founding in 1977. Its evolution is widely documented and inherently detailed. Nevertheless, the purpose of this post is to document the marketing/design part of their resurrection. While other parts of that resurrection will be examined in the future, the heart of any product is captured in its marketing. Besides, as we will see, it’s best to keep it simple with these business lessons.
Less Is More
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was once quoted as saying this about architecture: The simpler the building the more it portrays (http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0327.html). In other words, simplicity leads to clarity and clarity leads to good design.
Apple has seemed to take this to heart since its early days, with the logo of a single, multicolored apple as its prominent placement in almost all its marketing media. This logo evolved with the brand and the products, moving from the initial rainbow spectrum to black, and now to a white glass that seems to scream simplicity without saying a word. The simple theme has migrated into all other aspects of Apple’s marketing stream, from the look of each product to the way each Apple store is organized.
iMacs are a single monitor and keyboard, with everything contained within the single case behind the screen. iPods are a single screen with a single control wheel on the front which, if touched, gives the user multiple choices. iPads are a single screen with a single button; the touch screen exists for the user to define the contents.
Apple Platform And Business Lessons
Essentially, Apple created a platform from which to encourage individualism by emphasizing the content rather than the design. In other words, while every iPod looks the same, the user defines it with the songs, movies, and other media they choose to upload. iTunes furthered this theme through individualized play lists that can be exercised without purchasing an entire CD. All of these designs allow the user to transplant their personalities onto the product and make it their own.
This goes for the Apple stores as well. When walking into any location, I immediately feel as though I am entering a clean room. Don’t you feel the same way? All are full of light colors (white and off-white) simple displays with paper thin products. At some locations, the employees even wear lab coats. All is premeditated. The line of the consistent, simple theme only adds to the brand’s perceptive stability.
Apple wants to make it about the user, and they want to make it easy. A good product is only as good if people know about it. With simple designs, marketing, and usability, Apple has made it easy to communicate the complex message of quality. Should other companies see this as more? Of course, and some have been seeing it since the trend caught on. No matter what the case, the market share of the Microsoft Zune, Droid, and other products that have cropped up as a result will never garner an equal share with Apple. First impressions matter. For Apple it mattered enough for every MP3 to be referred to as an iPod like every tissue is known as Kleenex, regardless of brand.
The most important business lessons are – Less is more…and so is Apple.
Thomas Gibbs is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor at Big Fish Small Bowl.