Insights - Brand & Marketing - Wearables

Brand Lessons from Apple’s Vision Pro

We go beyond the Zuck memes to find three important branding lessons from the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro

Girl wearing Apple's headset

As of now, the world is hotly divided on the fate of Apple’s recently launched Apple Vision Pro. Here’s a quick recap:

The naysayers

Humans are very careful about what we put on our face. We are protective of our peripheral vision and that’s why these clunky headsets are doomed because we will never use them regularly. They haven’t even caught on in industries like gaming!

The believers

This is an iPhone moment. Entire ecosystems, with a multitude of use cases, will now spring up around these devices.

The conspiracy theory

This was a project that seemed viable during Covid and Apple continued with the launch to keep Meta off-balance.

What everyone agrees on

It’s kind of tragic that big tech is so focused on products that will only lead to further isolation for humans.

With that out of the way, what branding lessons can we take away from this launch?

Protect Your Terminology – and Your Turf

Apple calls this a spatial computer – not a headset and extends this terminology to the vision OS, which is the “world’s first spatial operating system.” This is a well thought through positioning statement, because it distances Apple from the AR / VR market, which has yet to see any real commercial success.

And of course, there is absolutely zero mention of the Metaverse.

As far as Apple is concerned, this is next in line of their devices, and it uses your eyes, just as the watch sat on your wrist.

As positioning expert April Dunford puts it, “This forces other companies to come and play on Apple’s turf – and that’s a space the company knows how to protect.”

Screenshot from Apple website showing Apple Vision Pro
Screenshot from Apple website. The company has deliberately stayed away from any mention of the metaverse or headsets.

Distance Yourself From the Competition

When Mark Zuckerburg announced Facebook’s name change to Meta in 2021, he repeatedly spoke of ‘building the metaverse’ – almost as if it were another parallel world.

In direct contrast to this, Apple has chosen the mundane ‘Vision’ for a suffix, just as it announced the phone and the watch before this, signalling that the device is for use in this world and not in another reality. The visible eyes are evidence of the design masterstrokes that only Apple knows how to deliver.

Control the Narrative

No one really knows the inside story, but Apple has exercised strict control over images of people actually using and wearing the device.

Unlike previous events, visitors at WWDC were not allowed to touch the Apple Vision Pro – they could only observe it from a distance. Demos have been organised for journalists and influencers, but they are not allowed to take selfies or their own photos – they must only use Apple-sanctioned images.

Strangest of all, there is not a single image of either Tim Cook or any Apple executive actually wearing the device.

Tim cook in front of Apple's new virtual reality headset
Tim Cook poses by the Vision Pro, but never wears it in photos

The popular opinion is that this is Apple’s way of controlling a meme fest like the cheesegrater comparisons that followed the announcement of the Mac Pro in 2019.

Tim cook in front of Mac pro 2019 with meme about cheesegrater
The design of the Mac Pro launched in 2019 drew comparisons with a cheesegrater

Maybe the strategy worked, because every social media channel was flooded with Zuck memes instead. Even Team THC jumped into the fray.

Twitter screenshot with zuckerberg meme saying Ab tera kya hoga Zuck

Elon Musk, of course, had the final say.

Screenshot of elon musk meme comparing price of Apple headset to magicc mushrooms

The THC Take

Think carefully about the brand territory you are defending and plot possible scenarios that could ensue after new launches. We can’t all be Apple, but we can definitely apply some branding common sense.

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