Apple are a bunch of copycats and I have proof. You’ll have to travel back in time with me as I lay out my case.
Its, 2007, and I’m a Brand Manager for Braun based at their Global HQ in Kronberg Germany. I’m working on a new top-of-the-line fully automatic espresso maker, and particularly excited to tap into the brand’s design equity dating back decades with a deep history including a huge portfolio in electronics, audio, and video! But as we were putting together the selling story it was getting harder and harder to find an angle or a hook that was going to captivate the sales organization and also the retail buyers we needed to impress.
Remember it was 2007, and something momentous happened in in June of that year with the launch of the new Apple Iphone. But then we at Braun noticed the resemblance of their calculator app to our E-44 and E-66 calculator (which had similar round buttons). As we took a closer look and started checking the tech and innovation press we found more instances where Apple design had been inspired by, paid homage or transformed the ideas of Braun onto their brand:
The Apple iMac screen with the elegant design very closely to look like a Braun LE1 speaker.
The original white iPod with the wheel - that looks very very similar to a Braun T3 Pocket radio and the TP1 radio.
Remember when Apple stood out for using white elegantly in audio products - that was again an homage a tribute to the work of Braun and Dieter Rams (Chief Design Officer 1961-1995).
The reason I’m telling the story is that it actually helped motivate and inspire me and the team working on our launch. Because, ultimately what Apple did was to help us find our voice and realize that their ability to remix our brand and designs was a gift. It was a blessing. It allowed us to tell stories of our past and our present, that we (Braun) were the original source of their ideas. We had gravitas, we had originality, that our products were essentially the iconic ideas that stand the test of time. So it was kind of inevitable that breakthrough ideas in the market were going to come from something Braun launched, or would be a remix of something Braun inspired that Steve Jobs had been working on.
So, was there a happy ending? YES ! Apple design has continued to its iconic status and they went from selling 1M Iphones in 2007 to 217M a year. Sadly, not all stories have a happy ending - the Braun Espresso maker didn’t see the light of day. The launch was cancelled. But perhaps there’s some confidence flowing back to the brand through licensing and (In fact in 2019 they are back in the audio market with LE01 speakers).
Check out Episode 019 Marketing: Remix, Recycle, Reuse of the podcast here