MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

iHearts and Minds: Persuasion and Apple | March 1, 2011

Persuasion is a form of social influence which steers an individual toward the adoption of an idea, attitude or behavior through various strategies. In advertising, persuasion is used to sway viewers to believe in a particular message that the advertisers are trying to communicate, as well as to influence them to act in accordance with that belief. Apple Inc., a tech company that has transcended its second-place status with some of the most memorable campaigns in advertising history — from “1984” (see below) to “Get A Mac” — provides a masterful example of the power in persuasion.
Apple’s advertisements communicate a fundamentally different message than other members of the consumer electronics industry; they consistently convey principles of freethinking individuality as well as a disdain for conformity. These beliefs are upheld in Apple’s products, in its communications and in the demeanor of its employees — Steve Jobs allegedly walked around the office barefoot even after the company had achieved Fortune 500 status. Also unique to the company are its customers: the loyal and almost fanatic nature of Apple consumers has learned them the extreme title of “Apple Evangelists.”

A brand’s functional qualities and emblematic values are elements which help the brand appeal to consumers’ minds and emotions. Apple’s brand personality revolves around principles of imagination, innovation, freedom, passion, and the notion of power to the people through technology. Another essential quality of the Apple brand personality is simplicity and ease of use. Through the elimination of unnecessary complexity from people’s lives, Apple demonstrates its user-focused product design, which distinguishes it from other computer companies. With distinctive visual and verbal vocabulary expressed through innovative design, Apple has generated brand emotions and connections to the lifestyle of its customers — a lifestyle of independence, superiority and simplicity. Establishing this link between specific products and a way of living can foster a consumer base consistent throughout its entire lifetime, which is particularly potent in an industry built upon constant technological update and advancement.

Furthermore, Apple frequently uses themes that highlight elements of counterculture, showing freethinking personalities like Einstein and Lennon to emphasize the fact that Mac users “Think Different” (see below). This strategy, in addition to offering simply-designed products that eliminate unneeded complications from the experience of technology, persuades consumers to become extremely loyal Apple customers. No wonder more than 100 million iPods have been sold; no wonder Apple has a greater market share than Dell, another tech company once praised for its advertising; and no wonder that within the confines of luxury PCs, or those costing more than $1,000, Apple controls 91 percent of the market.


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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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