apple-tv-2-frontA surefire sign that you have a coveted brand is when the product you offer is not a category changer, not a category innovator, not even the best option in the category, and yet somehow it manages to be a dominant player in the market.

Yet again, I have to use Apple as an example, this time about its second generation release of the Apple TV. Typically, Apple makes me covet what I do not need. But in the case of the Apple TV, it somehow made me want (and subsequently purchase) what I really, really did not need. This is the beauty of meaningful branding, to make the consumer so deeply engrained in the brand message that they become emotionally invested.

In the internet connectable market, there are blu-ray players, video game systems, Roku players, computers, even televisions that connect directly to applications like Netflix, Pandora, and digital movie renting/buying services like Amazon On Demand. For example, on a Playstation 3, you can play video games, browse the Internet, view your personal videos, photos and music, rent new release movies, connect to Netflix, and connect to Hulu.

My point is that the Apple TV does not do anything new, not really even anything better. Yet, it is the Apple TV that acts as the centerpiece in my entertainment center and which I am the most proud to own.

Earlier this month the Apple TV was #13 on the most wanted electronics list on Amazon.com, ahead of the Roku player at #23, the Boxee Box at #185 and the Logitech Revue (used in conjunction with Google TV) at #430. This is a powerful position considering that the Apple TV is not the newest option, nor the option with the most features, nor is it the most inexpensive.  It is however, the option with the most brand equity.

When I look at my entertainment center, there is a television with Samsung’s name on it, a blu-ray player with Memorex’s name on it and a game system with Sony’s name on it. It is only the Apple TV that feels like it has my name on it.