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Apple Will Thrive If it Can Maintain Its Culture: Amour

In order to stand out in todays world, brands must engage people differently. The most successful brands recognize that they are more than just brands: they are cultural icons. Apple had this figured out a long time ago, and its brand loyalty ratings and market cap prove the point. It's hard to imagine that a company as sophisticated and innovative as Apple would not have a long-term business and brand strategy mapped out with the same level of attention to detail they put in to their product development.

Steve Jobs
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Steve Jobs

Every moment of engagement with the brand has been carefully thought through, to ensure the product experience is as good as it can be. That all stems from a clearly defined brand culture and vision, the hallmarks - the DNA, if you like - of the most successful and valuable companies at any time in the past, present or the future. It's no accident that the companies we generally admire most in the world share this inherent - but carefully cultivated - quality.

Part of the legacy of any organization that has had a charismatic founder is to ensure that the authenticity and values embodied by that founder continue to drive the company. Think of Tom Watson at IBM, or Sam Walton at Wal-Mart. Just two examples of enigmatic founders, whose incredible vision, strong work and personal principles have continued to guide the way their companies ran, both then and now. The challenge for those who pick up the torch is in being respectful to the past, not a slave to it. To use the founding principles as a roadmap and make them newly consistent and relevant.

I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture recently in Singapore given by Sam Palmisano, the current IBM CEO, to mark the company's centennial. He could have easily spoken about a hundred years of extraordinary success. Instead, he told an inspiring, powerful, and very human story of how at certain critical periods in the company's history - and long after the founder had passed on - IBM's senior executives would revisit the basic principles around which the company had been formed. This was not about looking backwards. It was simply to ensure that the fundamental IBM culture and principles were being consulted at times when major decisions about the company's future were about to be made.

In that regard, story-telling across successive generations within a company becomes an important element of the cultural fabric of the organization when the founder is no longer there. Steve Jobs' own authenticity and values will always be at the core of Apple, including his personal lack of ego or personal excess. If the Apple culture, vision and commitment to product design remain consistent - but newly relevant - then his remarkable legacy will live on and we should expect the company to climb to even greater heights of creativity and innovation.

Mike Amour is the Regional CEO for Project Worldwide, an umbrella organization for some of the leading agencies in the experiential, digital and content arenas. He’s a 20-year agency veteran, and was previously Chairman and CEO for Grey Global Group Asia Pacific.