By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)
In true double-rainbow spirit (“but what does it MEAN??”), Apple.com changes its landing page to the above graphic, leading all of us to wonder if Steve Jobs will finally announce that he is an alien from outer space who has come to take over our planet.
I could spend this time speculating as to what the big announcement could be…I’m willing to bet money that iTunes will finally offer streaming music to its customers – which is exciting indeed, since I’m still mourning the death of Lala.com.
Being a marketer, I am not so much fascinated with the announcement itself as I am with the effect of the announcement. Let me explain: back in May, Rachael Rettner wrote an article for LiveScience on Apple Obsession: The Science of iPad Fanaticism, in which she points out that people who did not necessarily need the iPad to complete any immediate task still stood on long lines to be one of the first to own one.
…which we totally did, by the way.
Why is it, then, that anticipation of a new Apple product usually outweighs excitement over the product once it’s actually in our hands? We’ll have to dig into Apple’s history for this one.
If you talk to former Apple CEO John Sculley, he would argue that Apple is a product marketing company before it is a tech company. In 1983, Apple tapped the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Pepsi to begin Apple’s transition into a consumer lifestyle brand. While Sculley’s tenure at Apple was marked by a number of failed product expansions that eventually got him ousted from the company, it was an important first step in shaping Apple’s brand identity.
Fast forward to present day, and it’s clear that Apple has found its marketing sweet spot. Chris Morrison of BNet outlined Apple’s innovative business model, which has some surprising approaches to branding. Here’s how I break it down:
Owning an Apple product has as much to do with the owner as it has to do with the product itself. The Apple logo serves as a badge for most consumers, conveying certain personality type that is creative, witty, productive, and cool (among other things).
Some people may call Steve Jobs arrogant, but when he says he’s going to create something that will change the world, people believe it. Sometimes people believe it even without knowing what it is. This is because Apple has done an amazing job at building confidence in the brand rather than the product by forgoing false modesty.
When specs for the iPad were released, a lot of people were disappointed, myself included. “Why does Steve Jobs always undersell?” I thought to myself. The answer: because delivering on his promise is an absolute must and failure is unacceptable. Don’t think for a second that Steve Jobs couldn’t have built a camera into the iPad; he simply didn’t think he could do it in time. That, and what would be left for him to build into the iPad 2?
Here it is, the meat and potatoes of my blog post. Apple chose to release that enigmatic message about its iTunes announcement because it got us talking. I’m writing about it, you’re reading about it, the whole World Wide Web is probably buzzing about it. Apple knows that the key to a consumer’s heart is playing a little hard-to-get.
What it all comes down to is, Apple gives us something to talk about. In the tech industry, a lot of us are walking up to our co-workers and friends saying “so, what do you think tomorrow’s announcement is going to be?” And even if that person didn’t visit Apple.com or startup iTunes today, they’ve suddenly got Apple on the brain.