Monday, May 10, 2010

Disentangling Apple's Ad Spend & Branding

images:: Apple ad spending in dollars and as a percentage of revenues, Silicon Alley Insider and Fortune

This Fortune-Tech post takes a look at Apple's advertising spending {across print, online, radio, tv, and outdoor } when compared to other players in the tech industry. While Apple's ad spending is low, it makes sense to contextualize this. One issue is that Apple has the ecosystems of iTunes and iPhone, which leverage its brand tremendously. For the time being, Apple has positive brand associations that resonate with consumers, e.g., cool, innovative, underdog, etc., particularly when compared to Microsoft. Apple needs to make sure they maintain these perceptions, particularly in light of a potential brand backlash. Finally, Apple has retail stores that help frame the Apple experience. While not as ubiquitous as Starbucks, the stores convey a brand lifestyle. So, Apple has leverage in several channels that isn't readily reflected by ad spending, namely its presence on Internet/mobile web platforms and retail.

Microsoft tends to struggle with its branding, from my point of view. They are currently trying to add a human touch to the brand by showcasing users as everyday people, as if to say "we are all PC" and how responsive Microsoft is to user suggestions for improving Windows 7. Their brand associations often involve less-flattering descriptors with "monoposist" and "neccessary evil", although many users relate to Microsoft, particularly when compared to Apple. While Microsoft was smart to keep xBox branding distinct and separate, they've jeopardized the xBox brand with technical problems. 

More interesting in this mix is Google. Google is ubiquitous and synonymous with search and innovative technologies, allowing it to get great exposure at little cost. I think it could use some infusion of cooler design standards across its products. Nevertheless, in terms of smartphones and the mobile web, its Android has great potential to leverage the Google brand on this platform. I feel that Google is well-positioned to create a powerful technology brand, if it can manage the right brand associations.

Song:: Arcade Fire-'My Heart Is an Apple'

Twitterversion:: #Fortune post on Apple's ad spending doesn't encompass platforms, brand assocns & retail presence. Implications 4 Google? @Prof_K

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