A Lesson in Branding: How Apple Appeals to Teens

Last Updated Aug 22, 2007 7:56 PM EDT

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A recent Business Week article took a look at Apple's imprint in the teen market since Gen-Y fell in love with the iPod, presenting some interesting tidbits about Apple's appeal:
Ironically, teens aren't loyal to every brand-- not according to Brandweek. Nearly half of teens surveyed said they stick with brands they like, but 52 percent felt "brands are created by marketers just to get more money." Rahda Subramanyam, VP of research and planning for MTV Networks kids and family group said,
"This generation is highly aware not just of brands but marketing strategies. Overt marketing techniques are not going to work."
So how can a company duplicate Apple's branding success? Business Week presents four ideas:
  1. Meet a real need.This one seems like a no-brainer. You don't see too many Metamucil or PoliGrip commercials geared toward teens these days. Perhaps the better insight here is to dig deeper into what teens want. Last year's "What Teens Want" conference revealed teens want to connect with their friends, carve out an identity, and be creative. How can your product address those wants?
  2. Design matters. Extend your design aesthetic into marketing or branding. Example: Apple ads use white ear-buds and an iPod in contrast with the black silhouette.
  3. Let fans and the media do your marketing. Apple scaled back on its marketing efforts whenever it got a lot of media attention. They also follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid!) with straightforward campaigns (not loaded with information), allowing fans to fill in the gaps.
  4. You don't have to be for teens to reach teens. Apple's products are not age-specific, but the brand's characteristics -- creativity, diversity, and individuality -- combined with well-designed products captivate the teen market.
YPulse Media did a stand-up job presenting the highlights of this years "What Teens Want" convention, which took place in June. These two concepts popped out off the screen:
  • Consumer-generated-media (CGM) is the key approach to drive brand advocacy with youth. CGM is the most trusted form of commercial messaging. You could feasibly turn your consumer affairs department from a cost center to a profit center since influencers will take new information and deliver it to others through word-of-mouth marketing.
  • As a marketer, if you're not creating utility you're pretty much just crashing the party. Here's a good definition for branded utility: Brands being genuinely useful to their customers, employees, suppliers and the people they touch. If you advertise your product on a social networking site, you need to ask yourself this question: what can we provide the site that is mutually beneficial?
(Brand Hijack Image by myuibe)