Our favourite cranky ad blogger has a smart post about what ad people can learn from Apple and its advertising - read it here.
This is interesting because ad people always use Apple as an example of a brand that is loved and people are loyal to, often as part of some hocus-pocus trying to persuade someone to spend their valuable ad-money on 'brand advertising' (see also Innocent for this same syndrome).
However, as Bob (for it is he) points out...
"1. Apple’s advertising is always about product benefits and differentiation. It is never idiotic “branding” like the Gates/Seinfeld atrocity, or “I am a PC.” No lifestyle bullshit, just clear differentiation between its products and its rivals’ products. And always done beautifully."
This I 100% agree with. Yes, there are great brands, but these brands are most often built through advertising that focuses on what's great about the product. That advertising has to have a tone-of-voice that the brand can build on, but still, it's product advertising.
People these days seem to think advertising that focuses on the product is old-hat, lame, uncreative. But in fact, it's the best way to get people to like you and your brand, and it is, in fact, a lot harder to do well than brandy lifestyle nonsense.
Or as Mr. Hoffman puts it: "We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product."
I frustrates me massively when I see companies (especially smaller companies) that have been persuaded by some ad-goon to spend their precious money on brand advertising. I'm not surprised so many become quickly cynical of the ad business.
But, as The Ad Contrarian happily points out, the kind of brands that ad-people point to as examples of what good 'branding' can do, generally got there with good old-fashioned (but not necessarily old fashioned) product focused advertising.