Mark Ritson writes an excellent regular op-ed column in Marketing Week. Except this week, in my opinion.
His argument is that Apple’s success proves that the ‘modern’ measures of success for a brand (reputational factors like diversity in the boardroom, a robust CSR strategy, engagement through social media and the use of customer data and insight to create great products) are wrong.
Apple has a white, middle class, male board and no CSR strategy. Mark, it is fair to say, is not a fan of social media for brands. That Apple famously does not engage with its fans through this channel is manner from heaven for him. Indeed, the brand has little regard for research or insight, believing that it knows what its customers will need before they realise it. Steve Jobs often quoted Henry Ford: “If I’d have asked what my customers wanted, they’d have said ‘a faster horse’.”
Ritson argues that Apple’s performance based on the modern indices of brand strength is poor, yet it scores brilliantly on the most traditional rule “To thine own self be true”, on in Apple’s case “Think Different”.
Does this prove that CSR, social media and diversity are defunct as measures of strength? Of course not. For some brands having a diverse board and a strong CSR strategy is being true to themselves. So long as a brand understands clearly its role in its customers lives, then modern reputational tools like CSR could be very applicable.
It’s easy to use Apple as a prove point that modern marketing theory is hocum. It doesn’t make it right though.
Posted by Richard on June 6th, 2012