How Apple Enhanced Its Brand By Admitting an Error
It's tough to admit when we're wrong. Admitting failure feels unnatural and carries the weight of others questioning our decisions in the long term. For a business it can be even more difficult, as there's more than just personal pride at stake and a lot of people to convince that such an admission won't do more harm than standing your ground or simply keeping quiet on the matter. The reality is that the truth will out, however, and it's better to be open about failures and make them right, rather than try to cover them up. If you still need to be convinced, consider the example that Apple, the world's biggest brand, just set by acknowledging a mistake.
Artists Bite Back Against Apple MusicIn short, Apple's new music streaming service was only announced a couple of weeks ago, but quickly became engulfed in a cycle of negative press. Early coverage was acceptable, albeit a little underwhelming. But the news that the service's 3-month trial period would not only be free for users but also free of royalty payments to artists, caused some controversy. Musicians are not necessarily bound to sign their songs over to the service, but it is expected to be a major player in the streaming space and absence from Apple Music in the long term is really not an option. Historically Apple has been a friend to artists, with iTunes dragging the industry into a new era and monetizing some of the digital download market that Napster rapidly ushered in (illegally) for free. This made it all the more surprising to artists like Taylor Swift, Adele, and Radiohead that the company would effectively ask them to subsidize its platform for three months. Despite obvious drawbacks, these stars, not to mention many others and those who represent them, confirmed their songs would not be available on Apple Music as a result. Blindsided and facing the beginnings of a media-hyped cultural backlash, Apple chose to put artists (and its brand!) first and confirmed it would indeed pay royalties for those free trial months.
Even Apple Makes MistakesIt hasn't grown to become the most valuable global brand by failing, of course, yet even Apple's recent history is littered with mistakes and missteps. From the underwhelming launch of iTunes Radio to the mess up with its maps app, Cupertino's finest minds still fall short of perfection on a semi-regular basis. What makes Apple special is an enviable combination of brand loyalty from staunch supporters and the company's willingness to pivot - or reverse course completely - when it sees a storm coming. Although that brand loyalty comes from decades of commitment to computing and design excellence, it's still something that your business can tap into. Small and medium-sized businesses are actually some of the best placed to build these strong, customer-focused brands, as they tend to be closer to clients and able to communicate directly with them. Small and medium-sized businesses are actually some of the best placed to build these strong, customer-focused brands, as they tend to be closer to clients and able to communicate directly with them. The other element is also under your control: a willingness to actively look for errors and admit when things go wrong. This can apply on both an individual and company-wide basis. When you make a mistake on an individual order, be sure to stay in close contact with the customer, be open about what went wrong and do everything in your power to fix it. Every error can be seen as an opportunity to connect with your clients and make things right. On an organizational level things can be more tricky but, as Apple showed, having decisive leaders with a strong handle on what makes the brand tick is a great way to expand that individual opportunity across the company. Where executives lead, employees follow, and it's especially important to achieve that buy-in when you want to position your brand as transparent. If an employee doesn't get the transparency memo and goes against your open company culture, the brand value is muddied and you have to work extra hard to get it back on track. Arguably, Apple has come out of its music mess with a more impressive brand reputation than it went in with. That's a testament to its years of hard work, but it's nothing your business can't achieve with a commitment to admitting errors -- and perhaps a full read of our ongoing Build Your Brand series!
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