Learning From Apple’s Style: Let’s Play Dress Up! (Delivering Packages That Excite)

A few weeks ago I got my iPad2 thanks to UPS and the awesome Unbounce.com #ConversionFest blogging contest. It made me think about packaging and how we play dress up in the business world.

When you look at the iPad2 box, a few things stand out. There’s no product specifications or feature listings. iPad2 appears a few times but not in an over-powering font size or style. The one thing that stands out is the trademark pure white packaging and Apple logo. When you get this box, you know what it is without a doubt.

Hi, I'm an iPad.

Hi, I’m an iPad.

Apple is so confident in their brand power and the popularity of their products that they don’t bother with the extra stuff. The iPad2 box says, “Buy me and open me to see what’s inside!”.

So, what does that tell us about packaging and dressing up our products?

Quite a bit. Let’s explore and go beyond just the box…First Impressions: Look At Me, I’m Pretty!

I have not opened my iPad2 box yet. Quite frankly, I want to trade it in for an Android Honeycomb net tablet. I’m not an Apple fan but the packaging on the iPad2 makes it very tempting to open up and play with… Okay, I cheated an took a peek inside.

Apple really knows how to make things sleek and sexy. I recall their iMac systems and how they came in vivid colors. As a die-hard IT guy at the time, I looked at these computers as toys.. But they were quite powerful!

Whether you love Apple products or not, they demand attention. From the beginning, every Apple product had a unique style and feel to it. Once the Apple II came out, they became masters at standing out…

Personalization: Sometimes, It’s Just About Being A Rebel

Apple products don’t often offer much customization unless you buy accessories and such.. But that’s all aesthetics. Apple foregoes other types of personalization for the sake of uniformity and consistency. No matter where you go, Apple products stand out because they stick to specific design standards and conventions.

Personalizing an Apple product is almost a moot point. By just buying their products, you stand out. Nowadays, there are a lot more Apple fans for things like MP3 players and net tablets, but the die-hard Apple aficionados get their computers too.. That’s a bold statement on it’s own – who needs personalization?

When you buy an Apple product, there’s a sense of exclusivity. You feel like you’re part of a unique club. Since Apple stuff has always been over-priced IMHO, there’s a sense of status and power that bolsters the exclusivity of the Apple experience.

Again, Apple is far more popular now more than ever.. They dominate certain markets to the point of coining their brands as synonymous names for product categories. Just look at how folks look for iPods when, really, all they want is a media/MP3 player.

Bundling: Apple Says It’s Not Necessary.. Really.

I’m a fan of bundles. Buy everything you need together and save, well, a bundle.. But Apple has shown us you can be a minimalist and make tons of money. Instead of overwhelming customers with pesky choices, Apple makes things as simple as possible.

Everything you really need for your Apple products comes out of the box. Apple doesn’t really do bundles and it’s evident on their web site. Sure, you can buy stuff together online but there’s rarely a deal for attachments and upgrades of any sort. In doing this, Apple has somehow defied the laws of depreciation. Their products, both new and old, will almost always sell for the same price they did on release unless it’s older than five years.. And their loyal fans will buy them, too!

By just selling what’s in the box, Apple stands firm by the belief that their products are good on their own. They make the perceived value even greater by doing so!

Of course, Apple offers goodies to personalize your products but they don’t make this a big deal. Currently, the iPad2 comes in black or white. That’s it. Both seem to be equally popular. The statement here: everything you need comes right out of the box (which is why you pay the hefty premium). That other stuff? Eh, you don’t need it!

Let’s not forget that Apple’s customer care is one of the best (usually). If you live by an Apple store, you can get your stuff serviced or replaced, sometimes right there while you wait. They pack a lot of value into their core products.. I’ll give Apple that!

Thirdy-Party Support: It’s Nice But Not Necessary?

With such a powerful brand, Apple has gotten comfortable. They can make proprietary products and force third-party manufacturers to adapt to their style and methods. Even when you go with third-party goods, Apple products maintain their distinctive qualities.

There are a slew of accessories available for the iPad and iPod products alike. While there are tons more options available via third parties, official Apple products continue to out-sell the competition, it seems.

Apple turns what we know about marketing over on it’s head. Partnerships and affiliations are huge for us small businesses but, if you’re fortunate enough to own a powerhouse brand, the third-party support is merely a value-added benefit.

On the flip side, the Apple online marketplace is filled with tons of third-party applications. iTunes thrives as a powerful stand-alone software platform as well due to the huge selection. None of this would be possible for Apple without third-party supporters that see the need to get some of their action. I’ve also seen Apple retail stores offer tons of competing accessories, too.

Dress It Up: Make Your Products Sell Themselves!

So we learn from Apple that a remarkable story, stand-out style, and strong quality standards across the board can package products to sell themselves. Apple is not alone in their ability to deliver excellence on all of the above, but they are certainly in a league of their own.

I can tell you that packaging does influence my buying decisions but only when I know the product I buy really rocks. In fact, my next tech purchase will be a high-end headset for podcasting, gaming, and music.. I’m considering a wired surround sound set by Tritton, Steel Series, and Sharkoon. Each have tons of great reviews but I’m leaning towards Tritton simply because the style of the product, box, and branding appeals to me.

While dress-up won’t hide the fact that a product is full of suck, it will help create greater perceived value when done right. This is especially so for off-the-shelf purchases. It’s also really nice when you know you get everything in the box. You may pay more to boot but you’ll save money in the long run and get the full experience right away. I dig that!

Apple’s packaging is especially clever. They make you want to open up the box because the box doesn’t tell you much.. The folks at Apple know that, once you open it up and use their products, you’ll be hooked.

What do you do to dress up your products?

If you deal with intangibles, consider the tangible offerings you can provide to compliment your services. It can be as simple as publishing eBooks, sending out e-mail newsletters, or even offering V.I.P. membership cards. These tangibles can be dressed up to make your brand more pervasive and have your customers feel more fully-vested.

Again, whether you love or dislike Apple, they know how to create loyal, avid fans! What does Apple inspire you to do better with your business? How do you use story and style to sell? Do beauty and remarkable storytelling factor into your marketing?

4 thoughts on “Learning From Apple’s Style: Let’s Play Dress Up! (Delivering Packages That Excite)

  1. Ok.. first off.. I’m not going to lament that I want an iPad2 and don’t have one. (donations welcomed from @yogizilla’s readers) 🙂

    I just finished reading Steve Job’s biography and there are many things that struck me about possible successful business practices. One key point was the stark contrast between how Microsoft chose to license out its OS and Apple didn’t. Apple chose to have complete control over all its products. And with the control, came the extremely obsession to detail, simplicity and usability. Right down to the patented box that you are raving about.

    Beautiful things makes reflect on our own view of the world. I feel amazing when I work with products that make my life easier and are nice on the eyes. I love JJ Abrams’ Apple rant on his TED talk. The says the beauty of the Macbook challenges to him to write amazing things every day. Then he jokes that there are days when he looks at it and says “got nothing for you today.”

    What is that quote… “beauty is in the details..”? Apple nailed that. Charges a premium for it. Boxes you into their world (only Apple products work with other Apple products). But.. the benefit is the joy of working with beautiful products.

    So.. I think your question could be.. “What has your business do bring beauty into your clients lives?”

    • That comment was beautiful in itself!

      I’d say your CTA question aligns more with what I tried to get at.. Style and beauty are kindred spirits, I’d say. Apple has it in spades.

      So, what beauty do you bring into your clients’ lives?

      I’d say the beauty I bring them is giving their online presence more meaning… Beauty resides in the warmth we bring when engaging others. Would y’all agree? 8)

  2. I unapologetically love Macs. On top of my MacBook, I am now rocking a PowerBook G4! The thing works like a charm for being several years old.

    I’m a big fan of their packaging as well. I love how they have that mimimalistic feel to their brand. It truly aligns with my own personal taste in simplicity.

    Interesting post Yomar. Even if you DON’T like Macs…

    • I just call ’em how I see ’em, Dave!

      At least I’m not the typical anti-Apple techie.. I can give them credit where it’s due. I have become a bit of a minimalist myself so I suppose it’s surprising that I am a huge PC/Windows guy.

      I must admit, loving Linux/Unix for several years now, I dig the direction of Mac OS. It’s a far more attractive option.. But I’d rather build a Frankenstein rig and use Red Hat, FreeBSD, or Knoppix if I am going that route. That’s just me.. I like full control and customization when it comes to my tech gadgets and rigs.. Of course, that can get you into lots of trouble.

      Who knows, I may give this iPad a whirl but I’ll gladly sell it cheap to a friend and get myself an Android Honeycomb tablet. That way, I can tell myself it wasn’t a splurge purchase. ;o)

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