For The Love Of All That Is Holy On This Earth, Please Stop Using Apple As A Parallel To Your Brand

I was recently in a strategic planning meeting when the inevitable happened. Guess what it was.

Everyone in this “all opinions are equal” session quickly deferred to the CMO? Well yes but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Everyone professed to take a fresh look even at things that had been done one way for a long time but then quickly found reasons to keep the status quo? Okay yes that happened also but still not the answer.

Someone tried to use Apple as an analog for their business? Bingo. I wish I had a camera on me so I could have gone back to the footage to look at my reaction – did I make my eye roll obvious or was I discreet? And was my forehead sweating?

I find the Apple example soooooooo tired, but also typically not that applicable. Here’s why:

1. You don’t have the chutzpah.

Features and benefits are rational and easier. Going out like Apple does is hard. Less tangible. More attitudinal. Much richer in emotion. It takes big brass ones that most brands like to believe they have but typically don’t. Most senior execs live and breathe their business so much that they forget the simple truth – no one else does.

2. Your marketing resources are probably a smidge different.

Your budget doesn’t matter. Your marketing staff and their background don’t matter. Having a top-tier agency doesn’t matter. Right – and any day now the world will live in political and religious harmony where people agree to disagree.

3. You probably aren’t that diversified.

Apple makes a variety of devices and then offers services as well. I feel confident saying you mainly do one thing or even if you are with a huge company, your specific charge is probably more business unit oriented. Most brands behave more like trees than forests.

4. Your leadership probably isn’t wired that way.

From the beginning, Apple leadership got what most businesses struggle to understand. That everything matters. That every discipline is part of the marketing discipline. You might think your company is that way too. The truth is most aren’t.

5. You aren’t that good at multi-tasking.

Your brand doesn’t have a retail presence in major cities worldwide to augment its presence in other retailers, plus its own huge online business augmenting its availability on other online channels. It just isn’t a good comparison and deep down you know it.

Make no mistake. This isn’t an anti-Apple rant; it’s actually out of respect for Apple that I find these doomed brainstorm meeting attempts to “do things the Apple way” so forced. If you really like Apple so much, embrace the free thinking they advocate. Allow independence to reign supreme. Liberate yourself to the point that your individualism is overflowing. Once you’ve broken free, you’ll be able to find another example that fits better. Case in point, we recently had a client meeting where we talked about examples like Sharpie and Kingsford Charcoal of all things. You don’t see a lot of Kingsford decals on car windows but the fact is the example made more sense. I bet there’s one that makes more sense for you too.