July 5th, 2016
Apple is in danger of decline. It’s ivory toroid, the under-construction future headquarters, is proof.
When companies become inwardly focused, they unwittingly convert their windows of opportunity to mirrors of hubris — and cripple their branding machines.
Newsflash: Branding requires an external focus.
Nothing makes a firm more inwardly focused than over-the-top office space, such as what Apple is erecting. Employees will feel too comfortable and pampered — and disconnected from reality.
Instead of seeing customers, insular businesses, like Narcissus, see their own reflections in their customers — and in everything, frankly.
Scrutinize the communications vehicles of the insular: homepages, brochures, conferences, media interviews, speeches, Twitter posts, PR, and advertising. So evident is the degree to which they talk to themselves and build products to satisfy their egos and cultures.
Apple is building its mirror of hubris, literally and figuratively, on 176 acres in Cupertino, CA. Scheduled to open in 2017, its doughnut-shaped future HQ, with a one-mile circumference, will boast a 90,000-square-foot cafeteria and house 13,000 employees.
In December 2015, Jony Ive, chief design officer, and Tim Cook, CEO, gave a revealing tour of Apple’s solar-powered “spaceship” to Charlie Rose, correspondent for CBS’s 60 Minutes.
One couldn’t help but be impressed with its architecture and functionality, which Steve Jobs and Jony Ive conceived. But, as the tour progressed, I grew uneasy with the lavishness. For example, Ive designed oak chairs and desks that, at the touch of a button, can be lowered or raised.
My tipping point emerged when Ive began to gush about using the world’s largest curved glass in the circular edifice — and requiring a special-built machine to install it — which has nothing to do with understanding and serving customers, and beating the competition.
I saw a huge complexity in this outrageous edifice: Apple’s demise may be nigh.
Apple employees will feel transported and elevated while occupying their self-aggrandizing spaceship. They’ll be high-fiving themselves and each other — and, trust me, disparaging those not likewise privileged to inhabit it.
Think I’m exaggerating? Just wait.
Parting Advice to CEOs
The fancier your headquarters, the weaker your employees and company.
Let others build monuments to your company’s success; never build one yourself.
Success in branding requires external focus — and the ability to maintain that focus.
When your window of opportunity becomes a mirror of hubris, your company is in decline.
About the Author
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.
© 2016 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.