Peeling the Apple

Buried in the article mentioned in the previous post [Google? What kind of name is that?] there is an inevitable reference to Apple.

In the article Paola Norambuena, who runs the naming division at Interbrand, said: “If you took the Apple name away and sold all of its other assets, they wouldn’t be worth as much”.

As with many things in the branding industry, there is an overwhelming amount of unsubstantiated received wisdom that is accepted as truth. This line of thinking about Apple seems to be a variation of a quotation, beloved by namers everywhere, which is attributed to John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats. It goes something like this:

“If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you”.

This is probably so in the commodity business of breakfast cereal in which oats are oats are oats. Quaker did a great job of processing oats in their brick and mortar assets and getting them into the breakfast bowls of the nation. Apple, I would argue, is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Feb 5, 1996

Apple as a business has not always been the shining success it is today. As the BusinessWeek cover tells, the company and the brand were nearly managed into oblivion by a succession CEO misfits after Steve Jobs left Apple Computer in the mid-1990s. They viewed the business’s core product as manufacturing beige computers that fewer and fewer people wanted.

The Apple brand was rescued by Steve Jobs on his return, first through product revitalization and marketing and then by new product innovation. Today the brand is inextricably wound around the intangible capital of design, functionality, retail environments, product integration, content convergence, the Internet, marketing and the brilliance of Steve Jobs and his team.

What other assets does Apple have to sell? The company does not own its manufacturing plants. The brand is everything.

 

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