Apple’s story as heralded by its iconic late founder Steve Jobs is more about how its products make you feel.
The iPhone isn’t just a device to make and receive calls or browse the Web. The iPhone, with its sleek lines and compelling user experience, is “magical.”
This attention to the “why” more than the “what” is the reason Apple, with a market cap of US$750 billion, is the most valuable and enduring brand ever.
Now let’s talk about how this applies to your personal brand.
1) Decide how you’re going to stand out
On the day the iPhone launched there were other smartphones on the market. But Apple didn’t seem fazed by that.
Jobs had been clear about the company’s direction. Its strategy was to take the best ideas it could find and ruthlessly refine them. The result? A brilliantly reimagined multi-touch interface that would become its most profitable device.
Apple realised it would only have an impact in the market by taking the time to figure out what would be different about the iPhone.
For Jobs, that meant the iPhone had to offer a superior interface and user experience. He achieved that through slavish devotion to detail. And by creating an end-to-end mobile computing ecosystem complete with app store by the time the second version of the iPhone hit stores.
The first step in building your personal brand is deciding how you’re going to stand out, what makes you different.
2) Decide what you believe
I think every brand crumbles when companies and individuals never stop to decide what they believe. A personal brand is built on what you believe so ask yourself, “What are my values?” Once you figure this out you’re ready to explore a career plan that’s aligned with your values. It doesn’t make sense to work for a company whose values don’t match your own.
Here’s Bill Taylor writing for the Harvard Business Review about the response from Apple interim CEO Tim Cook just after the announcement in 2009 that Jobs was proceeding on medical leave:
“Cook did not respond with a detailed review of the products Apple made or the retail environments in which it sold them. Instead, he offered an impromptu, unscripted statement of what he and everyone at Apple believed — “as if reciting a creed he had learned as a child” in Sunday School.
“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing,” Cook declared.
“We believe in the simple not the complex…We believe in saying no to thousands of products, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us,” he added.
“We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in ways others cannot…And I think that regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well,” he concluded.”
Neither you nor your employer wins in a situation where your values don’t align. To succeed in your career, it’s incredibly important to decide what you believe and work for people who share those beliefs.