Forbes Analysis: Build Loyalty Like Apple

We don’t usually like to review articles about Apple because the general consensus in our office is that it takes the brainpower of a 5 year old to say that Apple is a great company.

This, however, does not take away from the fact that they are an iconic company that has pulled off one of the greatest marketing feats in the modern world: building a fiercely loyal user base. A running joke in our office is that the fiercest Apple supporters would buy an empty box if Apple released it and called it “iProduct.”

According to Forbes, “Multiple factors created this amazing loyalty – brilliant design, highly original products, intuitive user experience, creative marketing, and more. But there’s one element that gets mentioned less but was a key driver of the fanatical loyalty of many Apple owners: Apple created an enemy, the PC and its users, and built that enemy into much of its marketing.

Marketing has always been closely related to psychology. Humans create social identities for themselves based on groups that they consider themselves to be a part of. Henri Tajfel and John Turner developed the social identity theory around the time that Jobs and Wozniak were developing the early Apple devices. According to the Forbes Article, Apple took advantage of the human tendency to divide and create rivalries. This has been a strategy of Apple’s since their iconic “1984” ad was released during Super Bowl XVIII. They continued this strategy with the “Mac vs. PC” ad campaign, which ran from 2006 – 2009.

The underlying truth in all of this is that people crave human connection. Apple was able to make their brand into a cultural “lighting rod” which attracted a certain type of person. This allowed Apple users to “connect” with other Apple users simply because they used the same consumer electronics.

Companies should be on the look out for a good enemy because “us vs. them” branding is as powerful as the need for human identity.

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