Standing for what your brand values

How much do you value what your brand stands for? 

Last week The United States Government asked Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. Apple subsequently challenged the order, leading to many reactions both in the company’s defense and in opposition of its stance. Whatever your position on the matter, there are a few things that you can be sure the Apple CEO, Tim Cook and Apple are keeping in mind as stewards of the world’s most valuable brand.

Apple hasn’t been ordered to create a decryption key that would enable it or the FBI to gain access to just one phone, the FBI order was to create a skeleton key that would bypass or disable the feature which automatically wipes an iPhone clean of all of its data after ten incorrect password attempts.

This currently non-existent ‘back door’ would allow the government to use computer software to try password combinations until the phone became unlocked. While this could provide key information for the FBI, if this skeleton key somehow made it’s way into the public domain, the worry is that it could spread among hacker communities and render any of the billion plus iPhone customers and their personal data vulnerable.

Apple knows if it creates a workaround for one customer’s phone, the mechanism could one day be used by people with harmful intentions. And as the brand prioritises the customer so highly in everything it does, it can’t take the chance of compromising customer security, ultimately losing the faith and trust of their billions of customers.

For Apple to renounce the safeguards it upholds on user accounts now – even in the context of an extremely sensitive political, legal, and emotional situation – would be to disregard the work they have done to build the respect and reputation of the brand. In effect it would denounce the very thing the brand stands for as well as compromise how customers perceive it and the value, faith and trust they place in it.

The company simply doesn’t want to set a precedent for saying yes to requests that compromise both it’s customers and its own integrity. More will inevitably follow and the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter will have more compliance requests than they could possibly manage both from a legal and brand perspective.

It fundamentally comes down to consumer trust. Apple knows that, Apple has that, and as a great brand, it knows what it takes to build it and keep it as well as the potential cost of losing it.

While this case is far from over, it is a great example of how placing such importance in truly living your values and what your brand stands for in every aspect of what you do and how you behave, even when there is great pressure to the contrary, is how brands such as Apple can, and have, become so powerful and such a valuable asset.

james.brooke@foggassociates.com

01925 226 139