On a regular basis, business owners tell us they “want to look like Apple.” They admire the clean, sleek design. They imagine their brand will seem modern, authentic, high-tech, hip, cool and smart if they can only incorporate some of the same style elements into their brand. While I love Apple’s branding for Apple, it rarely works out for other brands. Why?

Business owners won’t walk the talk.

If you are going to bring Apple styling to your brand, it means lots of white space in your design. The clean, minimal effect is created by using color sparingly and keeping fonts to one or two styles.

The Apple brand is very stark, and most business owners can’t resist the urge to clutter their designs. When faced with their brand in Apple style, they ask for more text, maybe a cute piece of clip art or a stock photo. The result is something that is visually confusing and not at all clean. Typically when someone says they want to look like Apple, we know it is going to be a much longer design process as we figure out who they really want to be.

Not every brand should look like Apple.

It’s okay if you don’t look like Apple. One of the cool things about the world of branding is the diversity of different brand personalities. If you are a friendly, low-tech brand, maybe Apple isn’t right for you.

There isn’t anything warm or welcoming about the Apple brand. The hip, cool, and somewhat aloof styling is aspirational and isn’t for everyone. A good example of rotten Apple branding is J..C Penney. For more than 100 years, middle-aged middle Americans have turned to J.C. Penney for clothes, appliances and home goods. They offered durable, good quality items at a reasonable price. Their re-branding transformed the stores into Apple like showcases with a light, airy, upscale feel. The stores are lovely but empty because their core customer didn’t feel welcome anymore and then new target audience never came.

Trying to use Apple styling when it really isn’t you is like trying to wear someone else’s shoes. They may look good, but they will never feel exactly right. Instead of trying to be an Apple clone, figure out who you want to be, and work with a designer who can help bring that brand to life.

photo credit: Steenbergs via photopin cc