In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, Honeywell CEO David Cote shared that he wanted the 65-brand conglomerate to become the Apple of the industrial sector. “We really spend a lot of time on saying, ‘how do you become better and better with all your processes?’ because everything always comes down to people and process,” Cote says.
Far be it from me to argue with Honeywell’s success; the stock has gained 123 percent over the last five years. But growing a stock value and creating an Apple-esque position are two different things. What many CEOs overlook is that it is not the product or the service that creates the type of love Apple enjoys, it’s the potential and outcome of what those products create.
Apple is not in the business of making or selling computers and devices. Instead, they are in the business of empowering creative exploration and self-expression. Had they thought of themselves in the computer business 10 years ago, would we have seen an iPhone, Apple watch, iPad and more? Each of these devices empowers creative exploration and self-expression … each of these devices helps us as consumers fulfill our individual personal pursuits. Think of the iPod. In the end, is there anything more self-expressive than music?
Apple’s purpose drives more decisions than do the products they sell. It informs their store layout, crafts the user experience on the devices, thinks about packaging, and more.
So while Honeywell may be a financially successful juggernaut in the industrial world, they will need to identify and articulate their purpose as a company and activate this in everything they do in order to have a chance at becoming an Apple.
Until then they will continue to return value to shareholders, but they’re unlikely to command the same emotional commitment they talk of pursuing.
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Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award-winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California-based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.