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Brand Evolution – Apple and the technologies that bring it to life.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more recognisable brand than Apple. It is among the most valuable brands in the world. The mere mention of the name will leave customers queueing up outside stores for the latest models and opening their wallets without a second thought.

So, what is it that makes Apple so popular? Yes their products are beautiful. Yes they are of premium quality. But, perhaps the most influential element of all, is their brand awareness and perceived value.

Everyone knows about Apple. Whether you’re tech-savvy or a total technophobe, you’ve heard of them. And this enormous brand awareness means an unparalleled brand equity. In fact, in 2020 it was announced that they were the first US company to reach a market capitalization of over $2 trillion.

But, how has their brand changed over time? What does Apple’s lifetime – so far – really look like?

From fruit to flourish; how has the Apple brand changed?

Phase 1 – 1976

The first Apple logo came about in 1976 – and it could not be further from its current iteration. There was no iconic apple shape in sight; instead, the logo was an image of Sir Issac Newton sitting underneath an apple  tree with a William Wordsworth quote running around the sides.

The logo was the brainchild of Ronald Wayne, co-founder of Apple. Ronald didn’t last long at the company… And neither did the logo. A year later, Steve Jobs decided that the logo was ‘old-fashioned’ and wouldn’t work on a smaller scale. He strongly believed in the future of modern computer design and wanted a brand that would capture this idea and make the right impact on customers. So, in 1977, the bitten apple was born.

Phase 2 – 1977

The famous Apple logo was simple – a 2D apple with a bite taken out of it and rainbow stripes across the surface. The bite was included to ensure people wouldn’t confuse it with a cherry (plus, it was a tongue in cheek play on the computer term ‘byte’).

Phase 3 – 1998

Shortly after, Steve Jobs was pushed out by company executives, but returned to Apple in 1997. He didn’t waste any time, and in 1998 he rebooted the logo once again. Why? Because he knew that this iconic brand needed to revitalise and leverage its image if it was going to not only survive, but thrive! 

He removed the rainbow stripes and opted for a bold, solid colour palette. It represented not only a new era for the company – as modern, groundbreaking designers and creators in a league of their own – but also the return of Jobs. The redesign brought the brand image back to basics – no frills, just a powerful, recognisable identity. Along with it saw the introduction of the iconic iMac.

Phase 4 – 2001

Just three years later, the solid black 2D logo transformed into Apple’s first 3D visual version of the brand in a beautiful, softly graduated aqua blue. This new option for the brand would allow Apple to utilise their new cutting and etching technologies on products, making the logo physically 3D on the products with a soft sheen around the edges – a brilliant way to further emphasize the luxurious, high-end quality of the Apple range. The logo continued to evolve in this format for several years.

Phase 5 – 2014 / present

The logo reverts to its solid colour as first seen in 1998. However, true to Apple’s continual push to introduce the use of new materials and aesthetics into the marketplace, the latest version has incorporated a subtle, mirrored finish to the design, which complements the metallic casing used on many of its product range.

Have manufacturing processes changed for Apple’s badges?

Over the years, Apple has used various technologies to create and attach their logos to devices. 

Predominantly, we have seen the logo – in its many evolutions – injection moulded to the product range: a manufacturing technique used to produce badges using thermoplastic material. The end result is a smooth solid state and a reliable, effective way to bring life to Apple’s 3D logo. 

However, this isn’t the only manufacturing process Apple have used for their product badges; they have also incorporated several reverse printed decals into their devices. Later models have seen the logo physically incorporated into the computer’s shell – this was a first on the original Blueberry iMac; at the time, it was a revelation and an exciting sign of the lengths Apple would go in order to push boundaries and break the status quo. 

Apple’s continuous commitment to improve both their brand and the way it is brought into their products is a core marker of their success.

They know that in order to keep up with a changing market and remain at the forefront of the competition, they cannot rest on their laurels. We look forward to seeing the next step for this legendary brand.


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