The end of the quarter keynote from Apple has become, in every sense of the word, something of a calendar event — a chance for loyalists to catch a salivating glimpse at the latest products and service updates — ever since Jobs introduced the iMac back in 1998, or forever changed the face of music with the original iPod unveil in 2001.
More than just another tech company, Apple has established itself as a lifestyle brand; something that has cut across the traditional retailer/consumer relationships and deeply rooted itself in a way that transcends customer satisfaction.
Emotive. Cultural. Philosophical. These are the levels to which the Apple brand has permeated meaningful aspects of day-to-day life. For many, it has become as much a part of their own identity as their more indicative selves, and has managed to dominate the market in the process.
Looking at some of the things included in this year’s keynote, it’s easy to understand how and why.
Our invitations must have got lost in the mail, naturally. Thankfully, the event was live streamed on Apple’s website to keep everyone in the loop as announcements unfolded.
Here are a few highlights that showcase some of the things Apple did as a ‘brand’ that every business should pay attention to:
It’s fair to say that despite Apple’s global popularity, consumers have fallen ever so slightly out of love with the tech giant in recent months.
Sales for the iPhone and iPad have slumped, innovation between recent product iterations have been considered lacklustre at best, and the current “tax haven” stories in the news have tarnished an otherwise ethical image consistently upheld by the company and its brand values.
Even before it was officially announced that Apple would be removing the standard 3.5mm analogue headphone jack from the new iPhone, consumers were in an uproar: “What about all us audiophiles that have already invested in expensive music gear?”
Apple has, somewhat apologetically, threw a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter in with the new iPhone to appease traditional users. EarPods are now plugged in via the Lightning connector, you see, and there’s also the new AirPods for those brave enough to go completely wireless.
Well, “courage” was the actual word that Apple used. An emphatic way of giving power back to the people whilst taking away their beloved analogue jacks.
I know, I know, I realise I sound a bit cynical here. Apple aren’t exactly know for their humility, and the whole thing smacks of pretentiousness. But doesn’t that ever so slightly sum up the entire Apple community?
Whether or not you agree with Apple’s creed and culture, you can’t overlook the fact that the company has them, and will use them in such ways as to evoke feelings of being part of something bigger, reinforcing brand loyalty in the process.
Apple has committed to plenty of acts of actual courage in the past; fighting the FBI the way it has, and coming out in favour of marriage equality and other civil rights issues. I have no doubts this has had a positive effect amongst customers who have since taken such worthwhile causes to heart, or at least thought about them in some way, and how their decision to be a part of the Apple community has some bearing on these principles.
This year’s keynote also saw Apple commit to its ongoing support in education, pledging 4,500 Macs and iPads to teachers and 50,000 iPads to students across the US.
As consumers of Apple’s products and users of its services, audiences were reminded throughout of the positive impacts on various important areas of society, once again reaffirming that idea of being part of something bigger.
People — real thinking, breathing humans — have always been at the forefront of Apple’s philosophy towards buying and using its products, and customer satisfaction was very much a focal point at this year’s event.
From the outset, Apple looked to re-establish its services as the gold-standard in customer satisfaction; citing year-on-year growth for its new music streaming application; its growing community of paid subscribers; and being the number one preferred OS across mobile devices.
At the end of the day, however, these are just statistics, and Apple isn’t known for resting on its laurels with numbers and quotes. The personal touch is where it truly counts for lifestyle brands like Apple, and everything was brought down to a very individual level — personalisation of products; integration into day-to-day activities; experiences and feelings etc.
This extended far beyond the initial event and right through the customer journey of actually looking into and purchasing the new iPhone on the Apple website, reinforcing marketing messages and a brand identity throughout the process.
Read more about the importance of customer journey here
In other words, the keynote was very much a launchpad for starting new and existing customers off on their own journey into product exploration and brand experience. It’s a great example of how businesses can use a platform (offline or online) to point consumers in the right direction, when it comes to overall brand exposure and communication.