No, you can’t be like Apple.

If I had a nickel for every time a marketer asked us to help them become the Apple of (insert category name here), I'd, well... still not have enough for a cup of coffee. But it's happened enough for me to want to write about it. It seems like an innocent enough request. And one most branding experts are more than happy to indulge. But our answer is consistently and categorically, "No."

You can't be like Apple and here's why:

You don't have a $486 million marketing budget. (If you do, call me!) You don't simultaneously control both the product and the distribution. You don’t have thousands of developers freely creating applications for your devices. You don't operate in one of the few categories that is actually seeing growth at a time like this. You don't have Steve Jobs leading the way. You don't have Bill Gates to serve as your foil. You don't have free placement of your products in practically everything that comes out of Hollywood with perhaps the exception of Madmen, That 70’s Show and The Flintstones (less maybe the episodes where they visited the Jetsons).

Sure, you may have a few of these things. But you don't have them all. Only Apple does.

Success is a complex brew of a myriad of different factors. Many of which are simply beyond our control.

So beware of those who claim to have a process or formula that will spit out the next Apple (or Nike or Harley-Davidson or Amazon or Google or whomever). It's a lie that has been perpetuated by ad agencies and brand consultants for decades.

If you want your brand to be successful, it doesn’t need to be more like Apple. It simply needs to be a better version of itself.