Comparing apples to Apple

I just listened to a Planet Money episode about the evolution of apples (the fruit, not the computers) from a category mired in abject commodity to a portfolio of thriving brands.

It’s amazing how powerful branding can be. At Northlich, we’re always talking about how we don’t believe in commodities and that brands in those categories just haven’t figured out how to tell their story yet. This podcast is a powerful reminder of that fact, but what’s extra interesting is its discussion of how the path to an effective brand started by addressing a business problem.

Too often, marketing is called on to just make a brand “feel different” without implementation of any operational changes. And sure, it’s possible; but there’s a low probability of success. The most effective way to an effective brand is to commit to differentiation and market it. Said differently: Do something awesome and then tell everyone about it.

You may say, “My brand is already doing lots of awesome things.” And that might be true, but will it sound awesome when we tell potential consumers about it?

Think about your target consumer. Put yourself in that mindset. They are not engineers, salespeople or board members. They don’t necessarily want to hear how it was done; they just want to know why they should care.

Consider the other Apple (the computer one). When they launched the first iPod, it was a revolution in technology—absolutely crammed with engineering breakthroughs. But they didn’t talk about any of it.

Instead, it was just: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Does your business face a similar challenge? Are you mired in commodity? Or do you struggle to effectively communicate your point of differentiation? Let us come at it from the consumer’s mindset. It’s what we do best.