What makes Apple special?

I’ve been writing about branding for years, yet only one of my articles talks about the greatest brand of our time: Apple… Here is why: As soon as we start talking about brands and branding, it becomes extremely difficult to find an article that doesn’t refer to Apple. Every conference I attend, analyzes Apple as a brand… Every presentation I watch, accurately or wrongly, uses Apple as an example… I like Apple, I use their products and I admire what they stand for. But since there is too much talk about the brand, the point I’d try to make will eventually get diluted. So, “media saturation” is why I don’t talk or write about Apple. That said, Apple has a “special meaning” in our world. And today, I intend to analyze it for you…

First, let’s analyze the word we live in… Today, “soul” is removed from objects: We drink coffee from Styrofoam cups, wear wrinkle-free but ugly clothes and work in faceless office buildings. Somehow, somewhere Homo sapiens decided that functionality should dominate beauty. We think efficiency and quality management should come at the expense of beauty… However in nature, beauty is the necessary condition of functionality. Evolution shows us that nature forces all living beings to mutate and become more beautiful in order to survive. Case in point: a peacock: The more colorful it is, the higher its chances to mate. Or, think about flowers… They blossom in vivid colours in order to seduce insects to carry their pollens. So, beauty and function are not at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Unlike the popular belief of the 21st century, they are and must be the same! Function without beauty is just a human fantasy…

Now let’s analyze the soul… According to Greek mythology the soul is an Aphrodite, always concerned with beauty.  But, modern life has “sterilized” beauty, and made our aesthetic senses numb. We’ve got used to the ugliness all around us. Cities, buildings and products, everything is soulless. But that was not the case always. Here is what James Hillman, one of the greatest psychologists of all times, says:

“In Egypt, l’objet parlant (speaking object) was common at hand. Each thing spoke of the Gods, which were inherent in all actualities from a cosmetic box, a beaker, a jar, to the river and the desert. Even where things were made in innumerable multiples, thousands cast from the same molds, they are each a speaking object. It is not numerical singularity that guarantees uniqueness; rather, eachness derives from the imaginal potential, the God, in the thing.”

As you can see, even the mass manufactured products can have a soul and metaphorically speaking, can “talk to us.” That is exactly what we are missing today… And, that is exactly what Apple gives us: an “objet parlant!” So, what does the object tell us? What is the archetypal meaning of the brand? And, what role does it play?

In her provocative book Brand Thinking; Debbie Millman interviews Brain Collins, who likens Apple to a seductress. Indeed the beauty of those products seduces us. People spend hours in Apple Store touching, interacting and playing with products. Collins states that by seducing us, Apple gives us “consciousness” [of beauty] that Microsoft cannot. I believe that is exactly what makes Apple special: Creating an objet parlant that seduces us and awakens our aesthetic senses that have been numb for decades…

Today’s actionable tip: Apple is not the only seducer brand. Dyson is notorious for its beautifully designed products… In a typically low involvement category such as detergents, Method does an equally good job. Their beautiful packaging and unique essences awaken our senses…. Hillman says that beauty arouses love. When we love something, we want it near, not be harmed. Then we are blind to cost, risk or faults. His thinking has become my North Star, especially when working with consumer package goods. For instance, a former client of mine, Terragusto did a wonderful job shaking up our collective numbness, thus created itself a competitive advantage…

540-698 Dovercourt Rd, Toronto, ON, Canada

4 Replies to “What makes Apple special?”

  1. Soydanbay – 540-698 Dovercourt Rd, Toronto, ON, Canada – I am a passionate brand consultant who has a rare ability to combine rational thinking and creative intelligence. I give my clients the freedom to express their brands and deliver compelling customer experiences. I love branding. Actually I am obsessed with it.
    Soydanbay says:

    Could beauty curb corruption and decrease crime in a city? Spoiler alert: The answer is yes: http://www.ted.com/talks/edi_rama_take_back_your_city_with_paint.html

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