Tim Cook or Farhad Manjoo?


“Apple’s emerging global brand is privacy,” is a statement Farhad Manjoo made in his cover story in today’s New York Times. As someone with access to Tim Cook, Mr. Manjoo has a leg up on me when it comes to statements like this about brand, but this one caught me by surprise. There is an interesting video I watched recently by NYU’s Scott Galloway, in which he shares brand ideas of the top tech brands in the land (Google, Amazon, and Facebook). He smartly pointed out that it’s hard to articulate the Apple brand idea. Using my framework for brand strategy, which is “one idea, three proof planks,” I have to agree with Mr. Galloway. In all my studies and hypotheses of and about the Apple brand I can tell you privacy isn’t a plank I would come up with.  That’s not to say it’s not possible, it just feels a little off-piste. A little “of the moment.”

So when Farhah Manjoo, bandies about the “p” word in a branding context, in the midst of Apple’s kerfuffle with the U.S. government, I think he’s either taking some license or Mr. Cook is playing fast and loose with the brand.