Leander Kahney just published Apple: It’s All About the Brand as part of his ongoing series on Wired. In the article, there’s the statement, “… in some cases, branding has become as powerful as religion.” And I think this is true in Apple’s case.
I’m not a critic of powerful branding, mind you, especially concerning Apple because I believe it saved the company. Clearly, one of the most important moves Steve Jobs made upon his return was to reestablish the brand that had floundered under the watch of the previous inept CEOs.
Alan Deutschman covers this quite well in his biography of Apple’s controversial CEO, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, which you can download from Audible.com and listen to on your computer or iPod. By reestablishing the brand, Jobs was able to quickly stop the bleeding and buy time to develop an entirely new product line up, including Mac OS X.
But sometimes companies cling too tightly to brand identity, and I think Apple falls prey to this also. The company wants everything to appear “very simple” because a key component of its identity is ease of use. Actually, many of Apple’s products, like the iApps, are really quite sophisticated.
I’m not really complaining about this because I make my living by showing people the hidden power beneath the advertised GUI. But I do think, as technologists, we shouldn’t let ourselves become hypnotized by effective brand advertising. There’s always more beneath the surface — both good and bad. And we’re the ones who need to keep that discussion alive along side the branded messages.