Apple says goodbye to the i!

Day one after the latest WWDC15 in San Francisco. The media discusses the news, especially the new music-streaming-download-radio-service. From a brand strategy point of view, the most interesting part of the news is the name of the service: Apple MUSIC (branded with the Apple icon prior to the wordmark MUSIC). So, we got a new Apple subbrand. And we lost one. Apple just killed one of the strongest brands in the (digital) music industry, an icon: iTunes. It’s an interesting move. It’s a bold move! No real migration or transition, just the death of iTunes and the launch of Apple MUSIC.

Yes, the player app on iOS devices lost the iTunes name already, yet the store still sticks to its name (and roots), for now. But with the launch of Apple MUSIC, the iTunes brand will be history. It’s a bold, yet logical step to streamline the Apple brand architecture. It’s obvious, that Apple is fading out the „i(product/service)“ brand, product by product, service by service. It started with the Apple TV, went on with the Apple WATCH (still referred to by many people as the iWatch) and now Apple MUSIC (replacing iTunes). When you visit the Apple homepage, there a just two categories left that go by the i-brand: iPad and iPhone. Inside Mac, there is just the iMac (and iMac with Retina) left. In the store, we still have the iPod. And we have the iOS. That’s it.

What’s next? My prediction: the iMac will loose the i to become just the Mac pretty soon. The iPod will die sooner or later. What about the iPhone and the iPad? They will get rid of the i, too. Doesn’t make any sense, too risky? Because iPhone and iPad got household names for smartphones and tablets? Because of their brand value? Valid arguments? The i signaled a new category, something innovative, something that reinforced and re-invigorated the Apple brand personality. It helped to reach out to new consumer segments that could not be reached with the „traditional“ brand image. Today, there is simply no need for this anymore.

Apple is the strongest or one of the strongest brands in the world. The halo effect works top-down now, not bottom-up. Every new product or service benefits from the Apple ownership. The Apple brand signals the quality of service and exceptional experience. The name next to the icon is just to describe the category or product range, and an addition to differentiate the products or services. That’s it, that’s the blueprint of the streamlined brand architecture. It’s not just bold and consistent. It’s it simple, clear, self-explanatory, unpretentious. When you see it, it seems natural and intuitive. And in that sense, it’s a brand architecture that matches the brand promise and experiences. And that is f***ing impressive! Personally, I haven’t seen a brand architecture that reflects the brand itself in such a quality.

PS: What will happen to the „beats“ brand? A brand for headphones and radio stations inside Apple MUSIC? Quite sure, Apple will work it out…

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