By Carl HoweLeander Kahney, author of the Cult of the Mac blog over at Wired Magazine, has put his finger on a sea change in attitudes toward Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). He identifies many different factors going into the perception, including bullish views by Wall Street analysts, money-saving success stories from colleges, and positive stories about Macs being good for business showing up in more places.
I think his conclusion that Apple is a serial innovator is right. But I think the bigger point is his last sentence: "What's changed is not Apple, but people's perceptions of the company." In marketing speak, that's called brand value. A company can't build brand value with a single product or marketing initiative; it comes from years of reinforcing messaging, processes, and products.
Marty Neumeyer, author of The Brand Gap, has what we consider to be the best definition of brand:
A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It's not what you say it is. It's what THEY say it is.
It's no accident Apple was named the most admired company for innovation this year by Fortune magazine. Apple, Inc. will be thirty-one years old on April 1. Despite the glory of dot com and Web 2.0 startups, most truly great companies take at least a decade to prove that they are lasting successes to consumers and not just one-hit wonders. Apple may now be on the verge of doing just that.