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Lessons from giants: what can Apple, Nike and Dove teach you about creating the perfect marketing strategy?

When you think of some of the most successful brands in human history, Apple, Nike and Dove are all up there, in the hall of fame with other marketing giants. No matter what your business is about, it’s worth taking a closer look at the marketing strategies employed by these brands. You’ll soon discover that great marketing is not necessarily about selling a product or a service that your business offers – it’s about selling value, ideas and concepts.

Steve Jobs & Apple

Let’s begin with the biggest giant of all – Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple. What would your life be like without a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad? But designing and ensuring that these products work was only part of Apple’s strategy. If you have a great product, you still need to make sure that people know it exists in order to eventually sell it to them. We’d like to turn your attention to Apple’s 1997 Think Different campaign. Although the campaign had its hay day 20 years ago, the concepts are still relevant today. Celebrating the work of John Lennon, Ghandi, Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr., the campaign didn’t even mention Apple’s products or how they compare to Windows. Instead, the campaign was ‘selling’ Apple’s values. “Apple’s core value,” said Jobs at the time, “is that … people with passion can change the world for the better.” Apple’s campaign Think Different honoured the people who have achieved extraordinary things in the face of adversity. This is what Apple stood for, a much more inspiring and captivating message than dissecting the features of their latest Mac release.

Bill Bowerman & Nike

We often think of a business as a means of selling a product or a service in order to make a profit. But we forget that the way many successful businesses start is by identifying how they could bring value to the customer. In other words, it starts with the question – what does someone need? How can I help make their lives better? This is what Bill Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike, was pondering when he created the first light-weight running shoe in the 1950s. Having been a track and field coach, he wanted to help athletes slash seconds off their running times. In other words, he was trying to add value to their lives. Of course, Nike’s marketing strategy has evolved over the years, culminating in the famous phrase “Just do it.” But the lesson remains the same – great business and marketing starts with identifying who your customer is and how you can make their lives better.

Dove and the importance of real beauty

“Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” This is one of Dove’s most recognised and famous slogans, and one of the cornerstones of their vision as a company. They have invested a lot into researching women’s relationship with beauty, with an aim to change their self-image by using real-life women in many of their adverts, rather than stick-thin models from the catwalk. And this has been a tremendous success, inspiring women to feel more positive about the way they look. The great lesson that can be learnt from Dove is that by recognising your customers as real people, with all their insecurities and vulnerabilities, it is possible to address them and make a positive change. In this sense again, marketing becomes more than just ‘selling a product’ – it becomes a way to change cultural expectations and increase the confidence of your customers.

So what is great marketing?

Marketing doesn’t always have to be about selling your product or showing off your services. Great marketing can be a lot more than that. As seen from the examples of Apple, Nike and Dove, it starts by recognising your customers as real people and designing a brand that would inspire them to dream the impossible, bring value to their lives or improve their self-image. In this sense, marketing can also help you build your company ethos and inspire your employees, too. Our own vision at Cre8ion is to use the media to finance community impact, globally. What will yours look like? With our team of expert producers, web developers and writers we are ready to help you dream big and create a marketing strategy that will speak to your customers. Drop us a line to get started.

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