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...a story that is never completely told...

...a story that is never completely told...

A great brand is a story that is never completely told.”

I just clocked this over at TIGS, what a great quote. I was sitting having breakfast with a good friend yesterday morning and he was wondering aloud why some brands that couldn’t possibly have been bigger all of a sudden become tiny before disappearing completely. He was talking about a particular American beer (whose name I can’t remember) that was the Budweiser of its day (I couldn’t imagine saying anything more insulting about a beer, except maybe this).

This has me thinking about brand extension – do brands therefore extend themselves because they finish the story they set out to tell? Once extended, do they find their story wasn’t al that interested in the first place?

Thinking about the uber-brands, Cadbury certainly has story left to tell, as does Apple, Nike, Vogue, who else? Contrast that with brands that we perhaps know too much about, like Microsoft or McDonalds. Those are easy targets though, who else is out there that seems to have run out of things to say?

(This also has me thinking about luxury brands, how open would not beat closed in that situation, and how not knowing the story adds to their appeal…hmmm that’s another post entirely.)

Image courtesy of Mikey G Ottawa, with thanks to compfight.
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Can\'t Fail CafeI started writing this yesterday and I wasn’t quite feeling it, think this will be one of those ones where I have to put it out there before I realise what I meant…anyway….it got quite long, so I’m breaking it up over a series of shorter posts around the same idea, we’ll see where it goes from there. I’d love your thoughts along the way to help shape it, so leave a comment or drop me a line. For reference, I’m thinking about about processes that are inherently flawed and the businesses attached to them.

I’ve spent the last hour (plus at least one more last night) getting music off my iPod. I’ve had it for a bit over a year, and I’ve noticed it is starting to act a little funny (as opposed to acting a little funny). There are plenty of stories around about Apple building product break-down into their life-cycles, but I’m not really interested in that; I’ve derived plenty of value from it and will in all likelihood buy another when it finally joins the big circuit graveyard in the sky.

The thing about getting the music off it though is I don’t want to have to add it all back to the next device. That isn’t a good brand experience. But Apple couldn’t get the music industry on board without making it at least somewhat difficult to do, so we wind up in this middle ground where an industry who doesn’t know enough about the medium thinks they’ve got a good deal, and in the interim everyone who bought one has a hoop or two to jump through before getting what they want.

My thoughts here: If this was anyone other than Apple, they would be out of business.

Pink iPod NanoI receive Apple’s regular newsletters pointing me to all manner of wares available in their store pretty regularly. I haven’t unsubscribed, and I don’t really know why. I’m not big on impulse purchases and I read enough to be well aware when a new product has arrived or is at least about to. On top of that, while I’m completely trading in traditional notions of gender stereotypes, as a guy I do not want a pink iPod. I’d be interested to know if women received a newsletter pushing a blue or black iPod for their male counterparts, but I somehow doubt it.

The iPod itself is a hard sell as a Valentine’s Day gift, one that screams “Holy shit, I’d better get them something!” For anyone who has taken this option and is now reading this thinking a grave mistake has been made, take these helpful tips:

  1. When you order it, get it engraved (Apple do this for free via their online store, it takes less than a week to arrive)
  2. Open it up.
  3. Pre-load it with:
    1. Songs you know your partner loves or have significance in your relationship
    2. Photos of the two of you, your friends, family members, etc.
    3. TV shows you know they love (you’ll be surprised how clear the iPod screen is)
  4. Buy them a decent pair of headphones as well, as the iPod ones won’t last long; I recommend these from Seinheiser, roughly AU$80 and a great investment 18 months running)
  5. An optional extra is the Nike add-ons for those with particularly sporty partners, be careful this doesn’t get turned into a suggestion you think your partner needs to lose a few pounds – this slippery slope is harder to navigate than you think it is.

As a complete aside, I just unsubscribed from the Apple newsletter. Upon reading my opening paragraph, what choice did I have? Now in my sights: Border’s, Go Daddy, eBay. How many newsletters do you receive which you have no intention of ever acting on?

Update: Paypal just copped it as well. I’m reclaiming my inbox and nobody is safe!