Defending the latest Apple ads.

You know the recent ones with the Ferris Bueller-like Apple genius? The press has been uncomplimentary, as have the bloggers. But I think there is actually a strategy here. Once Apple sells Macs to all the “low hanging fruit” who lust after beautiful design, they need to win over other populations of potential customers. One such group would be people who are afraid they won’t know how to get started. These ads humorously address common unspoken fears among potential first-time computer buyers. They aren’t speaking to the kind of people who read Mashable.

Despite all the accusations of pandering — something about these Apple ads feels right to me: I think they get the mood right. I’ve sat with PC users far too often and felt how confused and frustrated they are at this box in front of them that makes everything so damn hard to do and hard to understand (from their perspective). I think these ads give a subliminal message that it’s going to be OK — this computer will work for you. You’ll be able to figure it out. That’s very reassuring to an audience of people that is not technical, not geeks — not us.

I give Apple credit for trying to go beyond beauty shots and selling design, to an attempt at communicating other aspects of the ownership experience. The Apple market is now the mass-market, not just creative professionals. These ads are not targeted at the geek core, but at first-time purchasers, switchers, and the type of customer that has trouble understanding the difference between the hard drive and the CPU.

There is a population that won’t trust the corporate voice telling them “don’t worry — it’ll just work — buy it because it’s beautiful and the people in the photos are all young, gorgeous and happy”. Maybe these future Apple customers need more evidence. Maybe they are not impressed by industrial design. Maybe Apple is reaching beyond the already-converted.

These are the ads to which I refer:

Thoughts on rebranding

If you are considering updating or redesigning your company’s identity, here are some things to keep in mind:

Think Timeless:
Rebranding can be expensive — not only for the work but in reprinting material and altering your web site. So you don’t want to have to do it very often. Try for a look that will not be dated in 5 years. You don’t want people looking at your identity in a few years and thinking “oh, that’s so 2010”.

Capture your Essence:
If you’re redesigning, then you’ve probably been around a while. So I’d hope that you understand your brand’s essential message by now. Make sure your logo embodies what you stand for in the public’s mind. That way, once you launch your new or updated identity, it will feel inevitable and comfortable, and not like an old friend has disappeared.

Ride it Out:
There will be an uncomfortable transitional period where the new logo and look may throw people. But hang in there — if you and your design team have done your work properly, it will quickly feel like a new friend, and you’ll forget the old one. Again, it should feel like an inevitable and obvious upgrade, not like a jarring change that makes no sense.

How can you make sure your rebranding effort is a success? Hire a professional. Someone working in this country who you can really communicate with. Someone with a demonstrated history of branding success.