Steve Jobs Shares 8 Nuggets On Brand Architecture in 3 minutes

I love solving brand architecture problems. How many brands or products do you need to serve your customers and maximise your profit? There are so many moving parts it can get very complex very quickly. But when you get it right the results can be amazing. Typically costs go down, brands get stronger and innovation improves. It can revitalise and refocus a flagging business. But it is hard to do well, so lets see what advice Mr Jobs has for us.

This video was a presentation that Steve gave shortly after his return to the company. The strategy he put in place saw a struggling Apple return to growth and set in the path to become the giant is today. There is a lot of value in a short space of time so I’ve lifted the key lessons that stuck with me.

1) Simple is hard, but its important.

Focusing the offer is clearly something that Steve prioritised and saw as essential to getting the company healthy again. But simple isn’t easy. Doing the right and making tough choices about what not to do can be harder than deciding what to do.

2) If it isn’t easy to understand, it isn’t working.

If your customers can’t navigate and make sense of what you sell, they won’t buy it. A range needs to be intuitive and simple. If you help people find the right choice for them and make a confident decision then they place more value on it.

3) Getting rid of products and brands doesn’t mean getting rid of sales.


He cut 70% of the product portfolio. Often people are terrified of discontinuing a line because they see the sales as absolute. If the product is really different from everything else in you range then yes this may be a valid concern. But people will cling on to a product for dear life that consumers can’t even tell is different from the one next to it. Remove one line and all the sales move the other because the consumer didn’t know they were difference. Or sometimes the sales go up because all the consumers that where overwhelmed by choice can now find what they want.

4) Simple is better.

By choosing what not to do they were able to focus on making what was left “insanely great”. The 80:20 principle is always in operation. Most of the profit will likely come from a small portion of the range. Once you know what that is, then focus on making it even better. That way that it grabs consumers attention and leaves competitors wallowing in mediocrity.

5) Architecture needs a structure.

Steve was looking for a model to make sense of the range. The best architectures are built on an “organising principle” that is tied to consumers needs and what they value. Crest organises its range based on consumers attitudes to smiles. The backbone of the BMW built on life stage and career progression. A 1 series in your first job, a 3 series when you get a promotion, a 5 series when you become a director and have a family and a 7 series when you run the company.

6) A good framework will focus your innovation.

Apple’s new approach helped it to “think differently” about the kinds of products they have to build. Your brand architecture should strike the right balance between the existing products and new. Not enough new and the business stagnates, too much and people get overwhelmed with choice and irrelevant options.

7) Help people understand where you going if you want them to be open to change.

The hardest part of deciding what not to do is telling people their project is cancelled or their brand is being killed. Often it generates huge resistance because people are emotionally and professionally invested. But if you have a clear idea of where you are going and why, then that gives them something to buy into and focus on.

8) Complexity has a cost. Simplicity keeps you agile.

Each new product ads a hidden cost. Every additional product or brand requires additional resources to manage. It is obvious that each new brand and product needs additional marketing attention and spend. But each new line adds more packaging, more parts, more suppliers, more complexity. You need more warehouse space, lead-times grow and cashflow reduces as it gets sunk into ever expanding inventories.

It can feel counter intuitive to grow your business by reducing it. But hopefully Steve has convinced you of the value of focus and getting back to basics.

So when last did you review your brand and product architecture? Is it simple? Does your customer understand it? Does your team understand it? Does each product or brand have a clear role and clear reason for being? Do you know how much the complexity is costing you? Is your architecture fit for the future and related to you innovation strategy?

I LOVE brand architecture problems. So if you need some help, then drop me a line...

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