So perhaps I was a bit harsh in assuming that Apple will be just fine without Jobs. Perhaps too idealistic? Upon further reading I have been exposed to another viewpoint, but am still undecided as to what and how much a part Steve Jobs actually makes up Apple. Jobs will remain an active chairman of the board, however as I mentioned in a previous post, will resign from his role as CEO which encompasses being the face of Apple.
So the question here is, if the face of Apple steps down, will Apple still exist without the face?
On one side, Apple has always taken huge risks on new ideas…and it often works out for them. The brand created the template for how computers work to this day, and has continued to grow in all different directions. The departure of Jobs does not mean that this growth will not continue.
On the other side, as David Pogue from the New York Times puts it, ‘his personality made Apple Apple.’ Jobs’ innovation and marketing brilliance has changed the way people live.
Consider this equation: Apple – Jobs = Success. What do you think?
So up to this point, you’re probably thinking that Apple exists in a perfect PR bubble. But what happens when something goes wrong for the brand? The simple answer is that they deal with it quickly, no fuss, and the brand continues to grow without a hitch.
Take the example of the launch of the Iphone 4 and the complaints received regarding a significant drop in cell service when the phone was held. Sound familiar? If many of you are thinking no, then the reason for that is the swift handling of the issue that left the Apple brand and Iphone 4 product completely intact.
Joshua Gans of the Harvard Business Review (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/how_apple_broke_the_pr_rules_a.html), cites the reason for this as breaking the PR rules and getting away with it!
1. Apple did not take responsibility for it, as they did not believe they had made a mistake. Jobs is quoted as saying, “This is a fact of life for every wireless phone.”
2. Apple gave away free cases to consumers to fix the problem, but announced they were doing so at the end of the conference, and did so begrudgingly. Normally, a company would make the ‘give away’ the key message of the conference, but as Apple believed they had done nothing wrong, they presented this give away tactic as somewhat of an afterthought.
3. In the PR world, it is generally counterproductive to make comparisons with competitors, particularly if it’s your company who is taking the fall. However this is exactly what Apple did! They invited consumers to make comparisons with competitors, forcing the issue to become one of the industry thus shifting the blame from Apple.
These three PR tactics would generally be frowned upon, but Apple breaks the rules, and they break them for a reason, and this in turn is what makes them the most successful technology brand ever.
Apple may be losing its greatest asset, it is all the media is currently focusing on, but what I feel is lacking in the media attention is the brand’s PR and advertising genius throughout the years of Jobs’ reign. The brand is not only defined by its innovative and leading products, but also largely by its ability to go unscathed and rarely scrutinised in the media; instead producing inventive advertisements and a controlled, efficient PR machine.
Jobs himself maintained a chief role in ensuring the public relations segment of Apple was monitored and dominant. He achieved this through himself as CEO assuming the role of the face of Apple. Jobs rarely talked to the press, instead holding conferences upon the release of a product, where he would display his natural marketing abilities and a passion for the products. These conferences comprise a lengthy demonstration and explanation of the product being released, emphasising new features and demonstrating how Apple continues to be the pioneer of technology.
Check out this snippet from the release of the Iphone 4:
Despite Jobs’ rare press appearances, he uses humour, irony and a personal approach to connect with his audience, but also highlight the brand’s pioneer status (“stop me if you’ve already seen this..”).
These rare conferences Jobs’ holds, in my mind, are an absolute genius tactic for many reasons. Firstly, Apple is able to have absolute control over what is presented. Jobs talks to the audience, allowing key messages to be conveyed that the press takes away to be reported back to consumers. Apple virtually controls what the press knows and see. Secondly, the rarity allows for the creation of a continuous alluring mystery, hype and buzz around the Apple brand.
There is an exclusivity but at the same time an accessibility to the brand…which keeps consumers coming back time and time again.
Advertising and sales promotion are significant tactics utilised by Apple to contribute to their well oiled PR machine. Just take the advertisement for the launch of the first MacIntosh computers. The advertisement was first aired at the American Superbowl, a coveted event in America where the ads are almost as important as the game. The link below shows the actual campaign, where the campaign slogan is “You will see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”, a clever reference to the famous novel, emphasising Apple’s ground breaking force.
Following the success of this advertisement, countless other successful campaigns have been executed that culminate the actual advertisement, catchy songs, images of products, billboards, YouTube videos etc that make the PR side of Apple almost as successful the actual products. There are so many it’s hard to keep up…any particular favourites of my fellow bloggers?
Steve Jobs (featured in image)
For all of Generation Y (and most of Generation X), Apple has been synonymous with technology since we first got our hands on a computer keyboard. It is the brand that allows us to communicate, to socially exist in the world, and to generally survive in everyday life.
Where would be without Hey Tell, Words with Friends and access to Facebook 24/7…whilst at the same time being able to listen to music from Itunes, enjoy Facetime with your best friend overseas or stream the newest episode of Gossip Girl?
This is not only one product offered by Apple that I am describing, this is pretty much all of them that have these capabilities…amazing isn’t it?! The brands capabilities can be attributed to Steve Jobs, the recently resigned CEO of Apple who has been there from the very beginning. Jobs has been on extended medical leave, so his recent resignation comes as no surprise, citing that he could continue to meet the duties and expectations he had to Apple.
Apple’s success directly correlates with Job’s contributions, and stakeholders in Apple are now left wondering, and eager to see if Jobs’ departure will see the brand continue to rise, or take a dramatic fall.
If the stock market is anything to go by, Apple’s shares fell 7% immediately after Jobs’ announcement, indicating the crucial part that he plays in the brand’s identity. In the public forum, there are varying degrees of faith that Apple will carry on the way it always has.
Although Apple is no stranger to media attention, this type of exposure leaves the brand’s public relations team the job of reassuring its various publics that the Apple brand will continue to stay strong and grow in the future. Already announcing a successor, Tim Cook, and gearing up for the launch of the Iphone 5 and iPad 3, Apple is sending out the signs that although Steve Jobs is admitting defeat, Apple is certainly not.
Personally, with or without Jobs, I can’t wait to see what Apple does next.