A brand is more than just a name and a logo, it also encompasses consumer perception and sentiment towards the product and its features. Tech giant Apple has long been one of the best examples of a successful and well-considered brand strategy – and it all began with their stores.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, knew that consumers needed to experience their products first-hand, or else they would fail. Placing an iMac between a Dell and a Compaq in a store with a salesperson rattling off technical specifications, without conveying what was unique about Apple products, was unthinkable. From an early stage, Jobs understood that bringing the consumers together with the product in the right way would be crucial – and that the customer experience must be finely curated.
The first Apple store
In the book Steve Jobs – The Exclusive Biography, Walter Isaacson lays out the development of Apple’s first store that opened in Virginia, USA in 2001. In the initial phase, Jobs secretly interviewed several business leaders to learn their insights and experiences.
One of those people was Ron Johnson, vice president of the US retail chain Target, and a renowned expert in launching unique products. Jobs met Johnson in a mall where they walked around and analyzed the design of the stores and their customer experience. When Jobs pointed out that there were no consumer electronics stores in the mall, Johnson explained that when a customer has to make a large and rare purchase, such as a computer, they are generally willing to seek out stores in less convenient locations where the store rent is lower.
Steve Jobs did not agree, as he was of the opinion that Apple’s stores should be located in malls, on main streets and in other areas with a lot of people. “We may not be able to get them to drive ten miles to check out our products, but we can get them to walk three meters. If they walk past our store, they will enter out of curiosity if we make it inviting enough, and then when we get the chance to show them our products, we will win,” he said.
A retail experience
Apple’s first store was designed to attract people, even if they were just passing by. Jobs’s designer Tim Kobe, founder of strategic design firm Eight Inc., said the biggest lesson he learned from working with Steve Jobs was to “create value for customers in addition to selling products.”
Do you curate your store experience?
The importance of a strong brand experience has not diminished, quite the contrary. For the past seven years, we have helped Apple establish its concept in retail chains and department stores. Here, we have gathered some insights from our partnership with the world’s most successful tech company.