Yes, that’s right, Apple has lost the glow that all of its Apple logos once emitted. And no, there was no power outage involved. It may seem hard to pin-point exactly what has caused the change, but reports, financial results, and even AAPL’s stock performance all points to a decreasing brand value. And yes, brand value does have a direct impact on a company’s stock if the brand is seen to loose its edge. Just look at Coca-Cola, whose brand value accounts for almost 60% of their market capital at $70 billion in 2007. Just this past year, Coca-Cola’s brand value was measured by Interbrand to be $77.8 billion with Apple chasing bright behind in second place with a brand value of $76.5 billion. But many don’t see Apple surpassing Coca-Cola’s brand anytime soon, with myself and others predicting the brand to fall a few more places on Interbrand’s ratings.
What’s making Apple lose its brand value so quickly? Its hard to pinpoint exactly what is the culprit behind its brand, whether its the loss of its former charismatic leader, Steve Jobs, Apple’s successful market proliferation that has decreased the scarcity of Apple products, or the overall deceleration of in-your-face innovation that used to be the product of Jobs’ time at Apple. Darcy Travlos from Forbes points out that Apple is suffering from a falling overall user experience, one intangible measurement that many argue to be a brand’s most identifiable strengths or weaknesses. One reason that Travlos identifies is Ron Johnson, Apple’s previous head-of-reatail for not bringing enough updates to Apple’s store-front experience to continue its powerful reign among many other innovative retail competitors. In the words of branding expert Marty Neumeier, “A brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” If Apple can no longer present a retail experience that gets the people talking, then its brand will begin to suffer. That happens to be exactly what we’re beginning to see unfold.
Another issue that I see with Apple’s brand as a former fanboy myself, is that their internal rumour reel has lost a lot of appeal and novelty. Heck, the fact that I’m even blogging negative speculation about Apple myself is bad news. Gone are the days of rumoured meetings between Steve Jobs and other tech CEO’s, reports of Jobs’ narcissistic episodes on their Cupertino campus, and other charismatic bursts that would always stir up the rumour community. Perhaps Apple is in need of another leader, not the Wall Street-familiar Tim Cooke, but a charismatic leader that would take strides towards the daring side of life.