Talk about the power of a personal brand! Angela Ahrendts reputation is worth more than nearly any NBA star, the president of any country, and even Tim Cook – the CEO of Apple, where she now works.
“Apple’s newly-recruited head of retail was paid more than $70 million in her first year with the company – $60 million more than CEO Tim Cook. Angela Ahrendts, 54, was poached by the tech firm in May after eight years as Burberry’s CEO, where she was the UK’s highest-paid CEO with $26.3 million.”
There’s a lot of idolatry when the media features Ms Ahrendts. From the Wall Street Journal:
“Clothing-rack-slender at 6’3″ in stilettos, she looks as much a part of the scene as the models Mario Testino shoots for her campaigns.”
Quoting Linda Wachner, ““She was one of the few people who knew not to take things personally,” Wachner says. “She never flinched, never whined, never shirked. She was a class act, and I can’t say that about too many people.”
Quoting Andy Janowski, “Angela is very different, very modern, very human. She gets people to work harder than they ever have just by letting them know how important they are, how much the team relies on them.”
That’s personal branding! That’s reputation making, visibility getting! This woman is described as having piercing blue eyes, using hand signals like an NFL referee to message her staff, and being a loving mother with a stay at home husband, who cried when she heard “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” after she gave the commencement speech at her alma mater Ball State University. She is so down-to-earth meeting Her Royal Highness the Queen of England four times, was less impressive than hearing 70’s phenom BJ Thomas sing. This is a picture perfect personal brand.
Until you go to Apple store and try to get something done by the employees now under her direction. Having bought Apple products for 29 years and hating the service for the same amount of time, I had high hopes.
On Sunday morning my new iPhone 6 died. To truncate the dreaded Apple store experience I will condense the narrative to these two quotes from the I-could-care-less staff at Apple Store #108 in Century City – in the center of Southern California.
From the busy bearded store manager: “No. We cannot help you. No, we do not have the staff or resources needed to handle the volume of people who have broken or non-working devices. No, there are no reservations available. No, you cannot wait. The waiting line is already too long.”
From Roy, the liaison for Apple Century City business customers: “I can only recommend you drive around to all the other Apple stores in Southern California to see if they have a waiting line, since none have any appointments until Tuesday.” He based that on the iPad he was hugging – as were the other eight staff members assiduously avoiding eye contact with people milling in the store.
So I would wait until Tuesday night, since that was the next available appointment. This was Sunday mid-day. I gather I must have purchased a toy not a business tool. Or maybe everyone knows to have another phone if you also have an iPhone?
Of course, this is the problem with a great brand – corporate or personal. It has to deliver what’s promised, especially when so much publicity had gone out to create such an OMG impression of your talent and acumen.
“According to Ms Ahrendts, she does not want customers to have to wait in long lines, become frustrated, and possibly end-up empty-handed if the product sells out at their local store,” per my fellow faculty member Ira Kalb in the HuffPo Blog.
Here’s the facts. There’s only one thing worse than waiting for an Apple product that sells out. That’s actually buying an Apple product, and needing service at an Apple store. Perhaps Apple and Ms Ahrendts will take note. Or reset their brands’ promise.