Customers of Apple feel proud to be an Apple user. The Apple brand has been one of the most valuable brands around the globe for years. In fact, it was ranked by Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, Statista, and many more, as the top 5 most valuable brands in the world, with a brand value of over 170 billion dollars.

So how did Apple create their brand value? Looking back to their early marketing success, what can we learn from this superbrand? What is its marketing positioning strategy and how can we come up with a marketing slogan as powerful as Apple’s?

The before and after of “1984”

The first famous success of Apple advertising started in 1984. The commercial became “legendary” when it was released during the Superbowl. This ad marked the beginning of the branding success of Apple. After the Superbowl, the audience couldn’t stop talking about this advertisement and since then, many companies even followed its path and started creating adverts dedicated to the Superbowl.

Before that, Apple has made many advertising campaigns that wasn’t really that much special or even highly criticised. Just before the 1984 Macintosh, the commercial for the Lisa computer, for example, was a normal and ordinary ad commercial. The concept of the ad didn’t really stand out, except for the excellent script and messaging that was inherited in the Apple brand, and till now, its unique messaging style, on the official websites, print advertisements and communication are still as powerful as always.

Days of selling products are long gone. Think Different

Following the success of “1984”, Apple created another big hit with the advertisement of “Think different”. And this has become widely recognized as Apple’s slogan. Besides the interesting story of what happened behind the creation of this ad, let’s follow the logic of Steve Jobs, and look at the important strategic decisions he made with Apple’s branding and how this idea was born.

“No Product” Advert

One of the starting point of what Steve realised is that: this is a very complicated and noisy world, companies who can’t be clear about what they stand for, can’t get people to remember about them. And that is also the reason why we and many other marketing and branding agencies follow the principles of “Be outstanding, be impressive”. As easy as it may sound, to really deliver in result, is a lot more complicated.

Here Steve followed the strategy of Got Milk? and Nike, who made their successes in marketing by not focusing on selling and mentioning their products. And made a bold decision to have “no products” at all in the commercial.

Comparing to Got Milk? who used funny ways to tell stories of having “no milk”, and Nike honouring the spirits of great athletes, with them wearing Nike, this time, Steve’s commercial were even crazier. Through out the whole advertisement, there were nothing related to their products, not a single scene was shown. Even for nowadays, doing such an advert is still a very extreme and bold idea.

A Higher Brand Purpose

Not many entrepreneurs and companies understand the importance of brand purpose as much as Steve Jobs and not many businesses can have the success in branding as much as Apple. When we are doing any branding or advertising project, we can’t emphasize more how important it is to have a higher purpose in the center of the company. To go beyond the product itself, makes your company have the power to go limitless. Since you are not just a computer seller, a shoe shop or a cloud service company, you represent something beyond. The product and service is simply a tool to communicate with your customers the shared values and beliefs. People buy Apple because they “think different” or want to be the one who thinks and be different. People buy Nike because they are inspired by the spirit of the cool athletes, sport and the attitude of “Just do it”. And from that moment on, you are not just selling a product or service, you are sharing a concept, an idea, a vision. And a shared belief with the customers, excellent products and services, and consistency are the key recipes of building brand loyalty.

How to come up with a good slogan?

Now, Apple had its success. What can we learn from them? How can we also create the best brand positioning? How to come up with a catchy slogan and tagline as powerful as Apple? Looking back our past branding projects and the analysis of Apple’s branding and marketing strategies, our branding strategist at bcbrandesign summarised 3 key steps and 3 checking points for “How to make a memorable slogan with the right brand positioning?”

1. Where you are at?

Analyse your current position in the market objectively. How much market share does your company have? Do you have the market dominance or are you just starting to increase your influence in the industry?

Back then, Apple had a minor market share, the majority of the market shares were still in the competitors’ hands, such as Compaq (13.1% as of 1997), IBM (8.6% as of 1997). Apple was not the mainstream of the market. Apple had to find a way to attract the customers, to lead them to make a “change”.

2. Who do you speak to?

Regarding your current market position of where you stand, through the market segmentation analysis, find out who are your main existing customers, and who are your potential target customers?

Apple’s target and existing customers were creative-related people, businesses and educational institutes who appreciate and understand design, style and quality. As their unique value proposition is a better taste, design, style, quality and user experience than its competitors.

3. Find the keywords

With the answer to the two questions, we can then brainstorm keywords and find the ones that respond to the current market situation and hit the hearts of your target customers.

The first step refining “Where you are at now in the market position”, set the psychological underlying tones of the slogan. With a minor market share, Apple needs to encourage the mainstream to make a “change”, to try the minority but better products. In the case of McDonald’s for example, being already the market dominator of fast food restaurants, they had an undertone of satisfaction with the current situation, that is “I’m lovin’ it”.

Knowing the target customer of Apple were creative-oriented, they were usually the groups of people that didn’t follow the rules, rebels who had genius ideas and particular taste in the choice of products, they thought differently and didn’t follow the mainstream. In response to Apple’s competitor IBM’s slogan “Think IBM”, Apple rebelliously decided on the slogan: “Think Different”. And by honoring the historical idols of the creatives, enlarging the categories of their target groups, Apple honored the greatest people in history, from various industries and backgrounds, who have changed the world by thinking differently. This ad made the Apple users feel proud to think differently and inspired more people to join the force of “changing” the status quo and changing the world by thinking differently. With the story of this commercial, this slogan had a more profound meaning and resonated with more people.

How to evaluate if the slogan is good?

While there are many factors to consider and assess, here are 3 main checkpoints we think is essential to estimate the best level of a slogan.

• Simple and memorable

Try not to exceed 10 words. You may notice the best slogans are usually even less than 5 words. Keep it short, simple and catchy. Make it easy for people to remember.

• Optimistic and inspiring

Having an optimistic attitude can’t go wrong. The human instinct hopes for the better. Start the slogan with an optimistic outlook for improvement of one’s self or in life. Have the ambition to inspire with a higher value, a broader vision and a bigger topic.

• Make sure your target audience can put themselves in

There are different types and levels of slogans, ones that talk about the greatness of the products or service, (like M&M: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands”); ones that focus on the benefits you get (such as Walmart: “Save money, live better”); but the best ones really, are the ones that the audience can easily put themselves in the context and inspires them.

Let’s face it, just as Steve Jobs said, this world is too noisy, we see too many advertisements and too much selling every day. Customers simply don’t care what you say about your products and your values if it is unrelated to them. In fact, why should they care? So slogans talking about what the company does, and what you offer, no matter how visionary or inspiring, still tend to be less engaging. Such as Nokia: “Connecting People”, Olympus: “Your Vision, Our Future”.

Instead, when you hit the hearts of your target audience, catch the phrase that motivates them and at the same time, matching with the company’s authentic values, that is when you hit the best level of a slogan. Example? Apple’s “Think Different”, Nike’s “Just do it”.

Final: Stay true, stay real.

From building brand awareness to brand loyalty, the company and the brand is constantly under the assessment of the customers. If the brand doesn’t stay true and honest to the customers, it’s hard to build up brand loyalty. When the messaging and the product aren’t matching, it’s difficult to retain the customers. After all, a good branding and marketing attract the customers, but the real deal lies in the quality of the products and customer experience.