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AT&T Borrows an Idea From Apple
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Here’s the thing; no one knows if borrowing is allowed. But if it’s a good idea and makes sense for a brand, is borrowing acceptable? Of course the answer isn’t as simple as “yes” or “no,” but it’s an interesting topic to tackle. Because if everyone is honest, there is a lot of borrowing that happens within the brand world. And lots of it is okay; there are some tactics and strategies that brands must implement and borrow in order to be part of a consideration set. This becomes much less of a borrowing scenario and one that is more cost of entry for a brand within a category. But then there are some ideas and strategies that are so unique and core to a brand that when borrowed they are immediately criticized. Apple’s Genius Bar, for example. There is no other brand that offers customers this brick-and-mortar experience when they enter a consumer store. These unique locations provide customers with an experience they can’t find anywhere else while also creating a specific brand experience. If any brand were to borrow this idea, it would clearly be a fail, right?

Only time will tell if borrowing Apple’s Genius Bar idea will work for other brands, or if this concept is too core to Apple that any other brand will face scrutiny. But this borrowing idea has already happened. AT&T has decided to revamp some of its retail locations by mirroring what is found at an Apple store. The setup is similar to what customers experience in any Apple store where the focus is around exploration and learning and transactions are merely icing on the cake. But will customers take this borrowed idea seriously at AT&T or will they simply assume it’s a copycat and go to the real thing? AT&T has already thought of this and is hoping that its stores can be an extension of what happens over in the Apple world. Since AT&T relies heavily on Apple products for sales, it’s hoping this is a benefit to itself and its friend Apple. Truthfully, that just seems too much like an excuse for doing some serious borrowing of an idea.

The most important question lies in what customers will think. If they accept the idea because they want more of these types of retail experiences then AT&T will see success. But customers could also dislike the idea of borrowing and simply go back to the real thing — the Apple store. As much as borrowing is accepted and sometimes the only route to go, it’s important to note that it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of solution. Think of JC Penney trying to provide customers with the small marketplace-type shopping experience. THAT WAS A BIG FAIL! Because an idea can’t stand on its own; it needs to fit within a brand, make sense to the customers, and always provide a benefit to the customer.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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