I live in a modestly sized home. I drove the same Toyota Corolla for 15 years. My wardrobe could stand a serious upgrade. I say these things to demonstrate that I’m truly not an overly materialistic person. Yet, each fall, I mark my calendar and count down the days to Apple’s big announcement event — when the company shares details about the many new products that I will soon come to believe my life would be meaningless without.
Earlier this month, Apple ended months of speculation about how it would choose to mark the 10th anniversary of its iPhone debut by giving audiences the first peek at its premium iPhone X. The announcement came with that phone’s no-longer-speculative price tag: $999.
I know there are less expensive options with functionality that surpasses what I need a smartphone to do. So, what is it about the iPhone X that has me salivating?
The answer, in a nutshell, is the magic of brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is that special sauce with which some brands generate nearly worshipful levels of devotion, while others are forgotten five minutes after we encounter them. It’s why some items are mere purchases when others become events. It’s the reason we can be perfectly content to dismiss ALL LOGIC and plunk down more money for one product over another, in part because of the logo it bears.
What sets brands that inspire rabid fandom apart from others?
- They appeal to our emotions and sense of identity. You’re not just buying a phone when you choose the iPhone X. Apple’s website makes it clear you’re investing in much more: “Say hello to the future,” it reads. Great brands encourage you to align yourself with a like-minded community. Though retired, Apple’s “Get a Mac” television spots were perfect examples of this idea, so effective that Adweek declared them the best advertising campaign of the decade in 2010. The ads made it clear: You were either a Mac or a PC, with connotations about what that meant for your personality.
- They make everything easy and anticipate needs we don’t know we have. My own spiral of Apple dependence started with an iPod. Sure, there were other music players in the market, but the iPod was so easy to use with Apple’s envious iTunes catalog. And, once you set up that iTunes account, all of your files synced so much simpler on a MacBook and an iPhone. Plus, switching from bulky DVDs to digital movie downloads was a breeze when you hooked up a new Apple TV … and, well, you get the picture.
- They deliver superior experiences. Every ad or selling point falls apart if the brand doesn’t deliver a quality product and superior customer service experience. I once killed the hard drive on my laptop … after I accidentally dropped it. And — true story — though I shared this fact with the person at Apple’s Genius Bar trying to help retrieve my files, he gave me a free hard drive replacement anyway because he said he wouldn’t have known I dropped the computer if I hadn’t told him. Compare that experience to the not-to-be-named automobile maker that gave me a hard time about fixing my car when the engine gave out late one night before I’d even reached the 30,000-mile mark on my odometer. Which experience would encourage you to become a repeat buyer?
A recent Forbes article put to bed the myth that brand loyalty is dying and offered more tips on ways brands can foster it in an increasingly social media-driven world. As for me, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stomach the iPhone X’s whopping cost or not. Regardless, I know I’ll make a trip to the Apple Store the next time I need to upgrade my phone.