That’s Not an Apple; It’s a Tomato

Photo by annapi_78 via Flickr.com, (cc) some rights reserved.Years ago, I was helping an agency develop a new brand pitch for a large consumer company when its CEO uttered the five words no marketer wants to hear:

“I want something like Apple.”

The agency enthusiastically obliged, creating a mountain of mood boards that streamlined and simplified everything from the company’s office space to the shelf space of its products. 

For good measure, it developed an ad campaign that was “informed by” the ubiquitous iPod “Silouhette” campaign of the time. 

The result, of course, was a disaster. (“You can’t out-Apple Apple” was the CEO’s canny verdict.)

Oddly enough, I was reminded of this experience while reading about tomatoes in The New York Times this morning. 

Tomatoes—it appears—are far less flavorful today because of an unintended gene mutation caused by tomato breeders seeking to develop uniform, “lusciously scarlet” fruit. 

The same is true for too many brands (and their agencies) that strive for an appealing look, rather than developing genuinely appealing products and experiences. 

Superficially, those branding efforts may appear beautiful. But they lack what every consumer really desires: flavor