Thought Leader Case Study: Apple Inc.
Apple is the prime example of Thought Leadership. No other company has internalized the concept like Apple has over the past decades. The company uses every available method of branding – be it the origin myth as a humble group of engineers working from a garage, the legend as a rebel by using the image of the original sin with the apple, or by incorporating unique designs – to remain a pioneer in their field.
Steve Jobs has forever established himself, even after his death, as the brand face of the company and the mastermind and pioneer of the industry. In cooperation with his legendary head of marketing Guy Kawasaki, he from early on involved every one of his employees in the company’s Thought Leadership campaign by the IT world with his legendary Thought Leadership Campaign “Think Different.” It was a simple idea: in their advertising campaign, Apple joined the ranks of other revolutionary Thought Leaders by putting their faces into Apple’s commercials (e.g. Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King jr., Richard Branson, Pablo Picasso, etc. this youtube clip explains the idea behind it perfectly Youtube video).
The natural conclusion, now, is that every great innovation, product, or service by Apple is combined into one single Thought-Leader System. Every product (iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch), by itself, and combined communicate the brand’s leadership idea. They set the bar so high that with every new product the customers, the fans, and even the stock market expect a revolutionary new idea. Not fulfilling said expectations by “simply” introducing improvements to existing products leads to disappointed customers.
The launch of the Apple Watch is a good example of how difficult these expectations can make introducing new products. Since there already were similar devices on the market and Apple, as a Thought Leader, simply integrated it with its other products (hence delivering a smooth user experience), the reactions among Apple’s fan community were split.
We believe there are many more, and different ways, in the future for Apple to maintain their role as a Thought Leader and expand its campaign even further. A lot of market potential nowadays lies in developing ingenious appliances like smart TVs, new smartphones, tablets, or even cars. However, it can be just as exciting for the company to connect its entire community on its own, interconnected community platform. In times of Big Data, the most significant benefit for the customer can arise from their personal data, i.e. data they provide willingly, to use interactive Apple services.