I took great satisfaction from seeing this recent post about Apple’s “PR coup.” While I am a huge advocate and believer in the powers of PR, I was amused at the superficial analysis that Apple had somehow achieved this slight-of-hand simply by crafting a well-written press release.
To truly give you a sense for my passion for this topic, I have to digress a little and take you back in time, back to the days when graphic design schools still taught students how to spec type and load a waxer (if you don’t know what that means, I understand). Around that time, I entered design school at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The year was 1984 – now famous as the year a company called ‘Apple’ released the original Macintosh.
As a young design student, I had no idea what impact that would have on my life. Please bear in mind at this time VCU was the number one design school in the country, and it still was not until 1986 that the University got its first EIGHT Macintosh computers. As I worked on the computers for the first time, it became clear to me that my professional career as I had imagined it would never be the same.
Fast forward to today and decades of product innovations have revolutionized the music industry, the cell phone industry, and continue to dominate the world of design, advertising and now film and video. So when I read about two incongruous factors in the story — stock prices dropping, yet Apple named most admired company – I find it in no way surprising, nor do I assume, there was a PR sleight of hand. As Apple boldly proclaimed in one of its most powerful advertising campaigns featuring revolutionary creators from Jim Henson to Picasso, I submit that those who scratch their head over this “PR coup” need to “think different.”
Because it is, in fact, simply recognition of some of the greatest branding most of us have ever witnessed in our lives. A brand so strong that people will line up for days to simply be among the first to buy a product that is often priced more and, at times with less advanced features, than competitive products. Not for need, but simply for want. There is no truer testimony to brand loyalty than this.
How long can brand strength keep a company at bay from stockholders? It’s hard to say. But let’s all acknowledge that both Pepsi and Coke have each created 100-year-old multibillion-dollar brands built on the sales of flavored, caffeinated soda water. My money is on Apple to stay on top for at least a little while longer.