Apple Expands its Branding with Beats Acquisition: A Company of Solutions Wrapped in Experiences

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If there’s one thing everyone can agree about Apple, it’s that Apple has impeccable branding.

There is that one brand that sits over all others: The Apple logo.

Sure, there are sub-brands, like the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Even the outline of the iPhone and iPad could be brand service marks–that home button and rounded rectangle are defining of Apple products.

But when you get right down to it, the Apple logo sits over everything.

That’s why it is notable–if not surprising–that when Apple today announced that Beats by Dr. Dre had officially joined the Apple family (after regulatory approval worldwide), that Apple so prominently featured the Beats logo, seen above.

What this means is

that Apple is continuing its migration away from its former “Apple Computer” to its current “Apple”: it is not a company of computers or even devices.

It is a company of solutions wrapped in experiences.

This is particularly relevant with recent articles and blog posts about what it takes to be a successful app developer.

Some developers have mistaken Apple’s phenomenal user experience as being an end in itself. (See Jared Sinclair’s blog post, and Ben Thompson’s excellent discussion of why that isn’t true.)

A great user experience (“UX”) is definitely part of Apple’s secret sauce. But don’t confuse the presence of a great UX with only a great UX.

For a product or service to sell, it absolutely has to solve a problem, or a perceived problem. For it to sell well, it should solve that problem and do it in a simple and intuitive way, with the least effort possible on the part of the user.

An easy to use product or service is of no use if it doesn’t solve a real or perceived problem. I can’t emphasize that enough.

So, again, Apple is a company of solutions wrapped in (a great user) experience.

Because of that, Apple can use other branding (such as Beats) for its non-computer, non-device products and services (Beats is both headphones/earphones as well as a music service). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time Apple has embraced another brand in this way.

And it foretells a future of further diversification in product and service categories. Maybe the Apple logo isn’t the most appropriate for a banking company. Maybe Apple will make other large acquisitions with its huge bankroll of money, and payments is one area rumored for that.

As enormous as Apple already is, it’s kind of scary to think of them growing and acquiring in other areas. (What happens what someone who’s not as relatively benevolent and forward thinking as Tim Cook becomes CEO?) But I think the Beats acquisition and the fact that Apple is keeping that branding and logo suggests they have big plans for the future, and the Apple logo is not enough to back those divergent business units.

But wherever they expand to, their brands will always represent both a solution and an experience that can’t be beat.

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