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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

3 Apple Branding Principles That'll Help Your Startup Succeed

Updated: Feb 27

Throughout the storied history of entrepreneurship in the United States of America, against all odds—countless founders, CEOs, and investors have accomplished a tremendous amount of success; paving a path forward for those seeking to follow in their courageous footsteps.

Notwithstanding the myriad of entrepreneurs from the U.S. that have left impressive imprints on the minds of those aspiring to build their own enterprise; you’d have a very tough time finding an entrepreneur from anywhere in the world who has inspired more startup founders than Apple co-founder and former CEO, the late Steve Jobs has. 

Founded on April 1st, 1976, by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple Inc. is known throughout the world today as the biggest tech company on the planet. But long before Apple became, according to Yahoo!, the second biggest company in the world by net income; Apple started off as a small computer startup in Los Altos, California. 

But like all great startups that go on to shake up the world, Apple became the colossal company that it is today—thanks to the vision of its leader—Steve Jobs. And while Jobs’ vision for product development has inspired generations of entrepreneurs to create their own impression of Apple, it was his branding acumen that has had the most impact on making Apple the iconic brand that it is today. 

1. Do not respect the status quo 

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things.” - Steve Jobs 

Depending on your current position at the moment, you either consider the status quo as a great thing that has been so beneficial to you—the thought of change wakes you up in cold sweats whenever you have a nightmare about someone or something interrupting the way things currently are. 

Then there’s those who see the status quo from an opposite purview. These are the people who believe that the current status quo is utterly unacceptable and therefore, they’re willing to move mountains in order to disrupt it. 

The latter, are the types of startup founders who go on to build brands that change the world—like Steve Jobs did. 

As the CEO of Apple, Jobs had a total disdain for the status quo—which was a great thing for Apple both as a company and as a brand. It was that disdain for the status quo that helped fuel what many former Apple employees and partners would call—Jobs' maniacal work ethic. 

Regardless of how successful Apple became, Jobs was known to obsess over creating the next big thing in tech. He also demanded that others who worked for Apple did so as well. 

Like Jobs did with Apple, your startup could go on to put a dent in the world by not resting on its laurels and never accepting the status quo—even when it becomes its industry's leader. 

2. Help consumers covet what they didn’t know they wanted

“It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” - Steve Jobs 

One of my absolute favorite quotes regarding the wonderful world of business is attributed to the late Henry Ford, who is credited for saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

And while some may debate whether or not it was Ford who actually first said the quote, what should not be up for debate is its accuracy. 

Before the introduction of the automobile, if you were to ask most people what they wanted to help them travel—faster horses most likely would have been on the top of that list. It is for those reasons, asking consumers what they want either via questionnaires, one-on-one interviews, or focus groups—probably won’t produce the treasure trove of consumer data that you’d hope it would as a startup founder.

Instead, a far more innovative alternative to asking your audience which types of products or services they’d like to see from your brand—is to constantly introduce them to products or features that they had no idea they wanted—until you presented it to them. 

Case in point, in the year 2000, even the staunchest of Apple fanatics had no idea that they’d ever covet a device that could fit in their pocket and allowed them to use it to listen to 1,000 songs, podcasts, play games, as well as watch movies—until Jobs first introduced the iPod to them in 2001. 

3. Help your audience become who they want to be 

“Apple is about people who think ‘outside the box,’ people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.” - Steve Jobs 

Between working with co-founders, potential investors, as well as staff members—managing a startup isn’t quite the easiest thing in the world to do. But as a CEO of a startup, no relationship that you’ll ever have will be more important than the relationship that your brand will have with its core audience. 

A great way to build upon that relationship is by making it your brand’s mission to help its customers become who they ultimately want to be. 

Apple does that by marketing their products in a way that helps their customers believe that anything is possible when they use Apple products. And although Apple’s inspirational marketing approach may seem quite simple—it’s no coincidence that Apple users are far more emotionally attached to the Apple brand than any of their competitors could claim (don’t believe me? Try getting an iPhone user to convert to an Android.)

What's more, the thought that a soft drink could help people become a great athlete may have seemed preposterous—until Gatorade presented their, Be Like Mike advertisement campaign to the world in the early 90s; helping athletic hopefuls believe they could accomplish that feat.

Your startup could also help foster an emotional bond with its audience by helping them become who they sincerely want to be. To do that, identify just who your ideal audience is and what they’d ultimately hope to accomplish. Then, think of ways that your brand’s products could help them realize those accomplishments and convey it in your marketing messaging and images.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that your brand doesn’t necessarily have to transform the lives of its audience. But if your brand and its products or services could simply help shape the way that people see themselves and their capabilities—it would essentially have helped them think in a different way. 

And as the folks at Apple could attest, the rewards for helping people think differently are innumerable. 


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