4. Keep it cool (and fun): Apple
What other company has the public and the press waiting breathlessly for each new product release? The bottom line is whatever that new Apple product is, consumers trust that it will be smart and sleek and that it will improve the way they communicate, work or spend their leisure time. What’s more, they’ll enjoy the experience of making the purchase.
While Apple has always been about creativity and expression, the brand has kicked up the emotional quotient by creating retail stores that foster a sense of collaboration and transparency between customers and sales staff. “They hire empathetic people, and they don’t measure their sales associates on sales,” Stengel says. He calls Apple’s approach to its stores “the best retail endeavor in history. They really want people to come in and be inspired, build confidence and really feel better about themselves from the experience they had in the store.”
Apple uses its retail outlets to show, not tell, consumers its brand philosophy, from the large tables, open spaces and walls of windows to its well-trained associates (Apple’s biggest brand advocates), who are armed with handheld checkout scanners that enable shoppers to make purchases without having to stand in line.
Some sour bits: The brand got lower than average scores for a sense of connection to Apple’s corporate side, as well as for the perception that the company doesn’t value customers’ business or reward them for their loyalty. Those sentiments may simply be the result of Apple focusing on its core functions.
“Steve Jobs just thought about what was right for the brand and the consumer,” Stengel says. “That focus is part of the reason they’ve done such a good job of creating new categories and products that continue to distance themselves from their competitors.”