Few would argue the Apple brand is mighty, with every product release, update and rumour spawning global buzz and madness (consider the recent iPad launch and the case of the missing iPhone). Behind the appetite for anything Apple are intensely loyal consumers, who many claim are fundamentalists. Accordingly, some consider Apple a religion.
Italian semiologist Umberto Eco, for instance, noted “Macintosh is Catholic” in an Italian news weekly, Espresso, in 1994. He suggested Mac, “cheerful, friendly, and conciliatory, tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the Kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed.”
Years later, the discussion continues. In Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, author Martin Lindstrom talked about how powerful the Apple brand is.
“Apple is (as we’ve proven using neuroscience)…a religion,” said Lindstrom. “Not only that — it is a religion based on its communities. Without its core communities, Apple would die — it is already facing strong pressure as the brand simply is becoming too broad (losing) its magic. What’s holding it all together is the hundreds if not thousands of communities across the world spreading the passion and creating the myths.”
Like them or hate them, Apple does have so-called ‘fanboys and girls’ who are willing to pay premium, and often go out of their way to spread “the good word.” For that reason, companies around the globe are attempting to emulate Apple’s mystique, iconic value and general brand success, in a bid to secure their own faithful following (and high profit margins).
Meanwhile, Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies star CEOs, suggests Apple faces a classic conundrum: companies strongly identified with their leaders need to become institutions independent of their leaders.
Can Apple outlast its founder, Steve Jobs? If it can, it could indeed be a religion. If not, perhaps it’s just a cult.