Tag Archives: brand

Iconic Brands

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When a brand becomes as iconic as Apple it can get away with potentially reputation damaging incidents which would tarnish a lesser brand.

This article on IPKAT  about how Apple has fared following news of its association with Foxconn, a Chinese manufacturer alleged to mistreat its staff,  is interesting for that reason.

According to the IPKAT last month This American Life, an acclaimed radio programme, focused on the harsh working conditions of employees at Foxconn.  The programme was widely distributed as the podcast of the show was downloaded by an extraordinary number of people.  Now it seems the story has been retracted and the parties concerned have given explainations as to why the topic should not have been aired.  In the meantime, Apple has declined to comment at all about the matter and the matter will probably go no further.

I’d love it if any readers know of an example where a brand’s reputation has not been strong enough to withstand the pressure of  an adverse media news report.

 

Apple will survive Steve Jobs’ departure

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Following from my earlier blog on how Apple may suffer without Steve Jobs, this post focuses on reasons why Apple may well continue flourishing even without Jobs.

To recap, some say Apple is too reliant on Steve Jobs to be able to continue doing well without him, pointing to how the company suffered during Jobs’ 10 year absence over 20 years ago.  However, Apple has moved on since its near bankruptcy during Jobs’ absence from the company, and has grown a lot stronger as a whole. Despite what has happened on previous occasions, Apple now probably has the strength to survive without its founder.

Apple is a well oiled machine

Tim Bajarin who works for the research firm Creative Strategies is optimistic about Apple as a company as a whole, referring to it as a “well-oiled machine”. Although Steve Jobs has been the creative genius behind Apple, it is not him alone that makes the company what it is today. Employees have been trained to “think like Steve”, and recently a number of the creative ideas have not come purely from Jobs. On top of this, whilst Jobs has been integral to making the company what it is today, he has now laid down solid foundations to be built upon. Back in 1985 the company did not do so well without Jobs because the foundations were not yet in place.  Now the company has been built to ensure it is not entirely reliant on one man for its survival. New products and updates are already lined up for the future that could help to continue to fuel the company’s pre-eminence in design.

Besides Steve Jobs there are a number of other valuable members of the Apple team who should not be overlooked. Tim Cook has been in charge of overseeing the company during Jobs’ leaves of absence for ill-health, and is predicted as a potential successor to Jobs. During Jobs’ absences he has been very successful in maintaining the smooth running of the company, doing so well that on his first time he was promoted to COO. Additionally Jonathan Ives is one of the top industrial designers in the world and Eddy Cue has helped make iTunes and App stores a great success. With such talented individuals working for Apple, it is unlikely the company would fail without Jobs.

Disney, Hewlett Packard and Ford have survived

Looking back at how other companies have done when they have lost their founders also suggests Apple’s continuing success.

Disney is still ongoing without Walt Disney; HP is going strong without Hewlett and Packard, and Ford without Henry Ford. If all these companies managed without their founders, then surely Apple will be able to do the same? On top of this, unlike these companies, one of Jobs’ primary concerns has been to build a brand that can survive on its own terms.

As Warren Bennis, a professor of business administration at the University of Southern Carolina, puts it, whilst before people were interested in creating products, “there is a different kind of innovation today that has to do with crafting the overall experience”. Jobs would have ensured that he had created a strong brand as well as good products.

Conclusion

On the whole the prospects for Apple look promising. With a potential successor, and many products lined up for the future, the likelihood is that the company will be able to keep going without Jobs.

However, whether it would be able to sustain its differentiating position for pre-eminence in design is debatable as it is difficult anyway to be pre-eminent in design long term given the emergence of other companies that also excel in design.

What happens to a brand when key people like Steve Jobs of Apple leave?

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The founder and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, has been diagnosed with cancer and has been given a limited time to live. Currently he is on a sick leave, but is still participating in meetings and involved with the strategic and product development decisions. When Jobs emailed his employees at Apple declaring his leave of absence for health reasons he declared “ I will still continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions of the company.”  This absence is the third medical absence that he has taken over the past seven years. However, although Jobs has managed to stay involved in the company during his medical absences, there is constant speculation as to what will happen to the company if the illness were to prove terminal.

Shareholders Enquire About Succession Plans

This has partly become an issue due to a shareholder group formally demanding to know Apple’s succession plans for Job’s role as CEO. However Apple has refused to share this information with the public.

In contrast to other big companies, Apple has been greatly defined by its founder. Will the company flourish or fail following Job’s departure? Sometimes, when a company has a charismatic leader, like Jobs, and the company has been structured around this leader the chances of the company’s brand suffering are quite high, when that leader leaves. However, so far Apple has not suffered during Jobs absences (although this is unsurprising given that Jobs has continued to work behind the scenes despite his illnesses).

This is the first of two blog posts that will consider the likely impact on the Apple brand of Jobs departure from the company.  Here we explain why people believe Apple will not cope without Jobs.  In our next article I will look at why others believe Apple will manage without him. 

Why Apple will not cope without Jobs

Those who are less optimistic about the success of Apple without Jobs see him as being so central to Apple that they do not believe that it will be possible to replace him.

Jobs has been key to Apple’s successes and his vision has carried the company to where it is today. So without Jobs’ unique abilities to motivate his employees, Apple might not do as well without him. 

Look what happened to Apple during Jobs 10 year absence

Back in 1985 Jobs had a period of absence, when after a series of events the board voted him out. In these 10 years when Jobs was no longer in power the company failed miserably, and by the time Jobs returned to Apple it was close to bankruptcy. It had fallen behind Microsoft, with Windows being more advanced than Classic Mac OS. Billions was spent without much product output and Apple spent a lot of money on a six-year lawsuit with Windows.

When Jobs did return to the company he managed to turn it around. It was Jobs who had the unified vision the company needed. Once he returned he simplified and consummerised the brand and streamlined its marketing.

Lorna Tibian, an analyst, said “he came back in 1997 and saved the company, and from then on he has launched the most innovative consumer products of our lifetime- the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.“     His perfectionism has helped to create Apple into the brand it is today and perhaps without him Apple would lack the guidance and vision it needs. Looking back through the history of Apple as a company it is evident that Jobs’ input has been vital. If the past has shown what Apple would be like without Jobs, then it could also indicate what the future would be like without him.

However, although Apple suffered without Jobs previously, it is a lot stronger as a company now, indicating it might cope without him. In the next article I will be looking at the factors that point towards Apple being able to manage without Steve Jobs.  There are lessons in this for any brand that is dependent on key people.