Branding is probably not necessary, and certainly not sufficient

Wired News brings us a telling quote from John Sculley, former president of Apple Computer:

It’s no coincidence that during the late 1980s and early 1990s it was a marketing executive from Pepsi, John Sculley, who turned Apple into the biggest single computer company in the world, with $11 billion in annual sales. Sculley marketed Apple like crazy, boosting the advertising budget from $15 million to $100 million.
“People talk about technology, but Apple was a marketing company,” Sculley told the Guardian newspaper in 1997. “It was the marketing company of the decade.”

Does he really believe that?
Sculley squandered Apple’s lead over Microsoft (and billions of dollars) through a combination of a high-margin strategy when the PC market was becoming commoditized and an utter failure to deliver new technology.
Great marketing is worthless if you don’t deliver the goods.

2 thoughts on “Branding is probably not necessary, and certainly not sufficient

  1. “Great marketing is worthless if you don’t deliver the goods.”
    This is definitely true. However, in the case of Apple, they have been able to deliver the goods. On some days, I’m totally convinced that success is tied to marketing than almost any other factor.

  2. Well, Jobs delivered the goods. The first time and the second time.
    Sculley delivered whatever was left in the pipeline when Jobs left. The two great triumphs of that period (System 7 and Power PC) were the real deal, but aren’t much to show for ten years’ R&D. What’s staggering is how much Jobs was able to do with the company in so short a time after a more than a decade of mismanagement by Sculley, Spindler, and Amelio.
    I’m a big believer in marketing (I do it for a living), but bad marketing played a huge role the Internet bubble. I don’t sense that marketers as a profession are sufficiently chastened by their failure.
    Jobs is a marketing genius. But he’s also an honest-to-goodness technology visionary who can translate his visions into shippable products. But I wouldn’t want to work for him.

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