It is not an oxymoron: A brand can both stand for something and think out of the box at the same time. This combination actually creates a powerful brand.

What does Apple stand for?

Take Apple for example: in its early days, Steve Jobs laid the foundation for what then “Apple Computer” brand stands for: (1) We celebrate those who change the world (undertone: WE, the Apple Computer, is one of those who changes the world.) (2) Design over engineering – (undertone: the simplicity, elegance, user-friendliness, AND the artistic appeal resulted in an emotionally attaching and fun-to-use “pet” instead of a machine like a Windows without the touch-and-feel appeal.) (3) to be addressed below.

A brand is not merely a product

Apple is selling a brand rather than a computer. Unlike the Microsoft brand which never elevated its Windows to more than a practical and functional machine, Apple’s computers and devices are emotionally attachable to their users who become loyal followers and fans.

Think out of the box

Not surprisingly, Apple, as it evolved, then dropped the word “computer” from its name “Apple Computer”. The Apple brand is no longer just associated with computers. Steve Jobs is an artist with superb business vision and laser focus. Had he been an engineer or a programmer, Apple as a brand never would have existed.

Then came Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, Apple Watch… Are they computers? Technically yes, but why can Apple charge a premium price? – Apple users or fans are not merely paying for the functionality of a computer, Apple fans willingly pay for the brand value, and all the promises of a brand that consistently stands for and delivers: quality, beauty, and prestige.

A brand stands for something at all times with all different products

In every product, the Apple brand has never deviated from the DNA its founder Steve Jobs created. I bet that one day if an Apple car comes to the market, it will unmistakably bear the same look-and-feel, design and engineering elegance in all other Apple products. This is because Apple has always adhered to their “Constitution” or brand DNA described above, and at the same time thinks out of the box as a true artist and an innovator.

A great brand thinks different, leads but not follows

At the same time, a brand is a constantly evolving, living, and breathing. A successful brand is always innovating. Apple was never in the position of catching up with the world, kicking and screaming, Apple was always leading the world with its vision and products such as Ipod, Iphone, Apple Stores, etc.

That’s the third DNA trait of Apple (1st and 2nd described above:) “Think Different.” Bluntly put by Steve Jobs: “The market does not know what it wants. WE TELL THE MARKET WHAT IT WANTS.” And the market embraced Apple’s innovation each and every time (so far.)

When Jobs put out “Think Different” as one of the Apple brand tag lines, his colleagues told him that without “ly” after “different”, it was grammatically incorrect. Jobs insisted on “Think Different”, which is ingenious in and of itself as the DIFFERENT way to convey the point.

ACT different, to create a great brand

I admire Jobs’ genius and more importantly his audacity to both THINK DIFFERENT and ACT DIFFERENT.

Imagine Apple had still kept the “computer” part of its name. Imagine they did not think out of the box in putting Apple Stores all over the world and just let all kinds of ordinary distributors, wholesalers and retailers sell Apple products…

In the early formation years for Apple brand’s DNA, Steve Jobs insisted on his vision for a closed Apple universe from end to end, while all others around him were urging for an open one. Jobs did not just think out of the box, but thought different, extremely different and acted different as well.

Thanks to Jobs’ vision and steely willed execution of his vision, today Apple is one of the top brands in the world, measured by both profitability and many other criteria.

Do you aspire to become a great brand?

Let’s face it: there are many average businesses and companies out there, but only a few power brands. Every year, hundreds of thousands of mergers and acquisitions take place, mostly based on the book values, while only a small minority of outstanding brands can sell at three times or more higher than their book values because of their established brand value. Many can have a successful business following usual strategies and norms, but to have a name brand is not for the faint of heart since you and your brand must

Stand for something, at all times.
Think Different, at all times.
Think out of the box, at all times.

If you want to be a thought leader, an influencer and if you want to let your North Star lead you to a higher level of fundamental growth and profitability, instead of being nose-to-the-grind-stone managing day-to-day business affairs, you have the potential to build a powerful brand.

What does it take for a brand to stand for something?

Core values as unchangeable as its DNA. It takes a combination of many factors to establish what a brand stands for, including but not limited to vision, mission, goals, whys, whats, hows, culture, UVPs (unique value propositions,) thorough analyses of target audience, market, … etc.

What does it take to think different, and think out of the box?

A LOT! Just a few qualities among many more: Vision. Guts. Leadership. Creativity. Purposefulness. Confidence. Audacity. Superb people skills. Team building. Unrelenting willpower. EQ. Focus. Understanding and application of financial and business disciplines…

Good news: you don’t have to start from scratch and reinvent the wheels. You can learn from the sages and get support from like minded business leaders and be coached by excellent business coaches.

You don’t need to be Steve Jobs to build your business into a power brand

It does not take a genius to create a power brand, since the mindset, skills and vision can be acquired. Internet provides us all with a level playing field for branding and brand marketing, anyone can build a brand. But to BECOME a power brand takes years of execution, refinement, alignment, innovation, brand management and marketing.

All you need is the desire to grow your business to be more than just financially successful but to build a powerful brand. If you have such interest, talk to us about the steps and the processes in elevating your brand to a higher level.

What do you get from our process of branding, rebranding, brand-refreshing?

Clarity. Vision. Greater influence and Larger bottomline.

More than higher profits, you brand creates success, culture and legacy. It is the North Star for motivating employees and inspiring customers-turned-into-followers.

We at 10 Plus Brand create and refresh business brands, for established companies and organizations, funded technology startups, and individuals. We manage corporate brands for technology companies and B2B professional services.

For inquiries, please email us at: info@10PlusBrand.com, or
call 1-888-288-4533. Or visit: https://10plusbrand.com/

Follow us on Twitter: @1page3minute or
Facebook: 10+ Visual Branding.

Thank you.

© Joanne Tan, 2019.
Edited by Glenn Perkins.