Our First Full Look at the Apple Mask—a Feat of Modern Brand Experience
Apple loves some proprietary design. Some people, usually Android lovers, will tell you Apple values aesthetics over functionality. They do have a point. Apple devotes so much time and focus to product design, to the point where it’s at least on par with the function. Steve Jobs would roll over in his grave if Apple introduced a product that didn’t have a sleek design to match the tech capabilities. That brings us to the Apple face mask.
The company unveiled two specially designed masks for employee use at corporate headquarters and retail locations. Like a lot of Apple products, they’re not drastically different looking than other designs, but they have their own little tweaks and personality, like a rounded chin and triangular nose section to prevent glasses fogging up.
We reported on the masks’ existence a little over two weeks ago, but now we have our first in-depth look at the Apple mask, thanks to an unboxing video posted to YouTube:
Say what you will about Apple, but it has branding down to a science. As with its tech products, even the face mask has a note on the packaging that says “Designed by Apple in California.” The company also didn’t skimp on the packaging, with each pack of masks coming in a branded box with multiple masks individually wrapped in printed packaging inside.
As with Apple accessories like phone cases, there’s the upscale element that creates a high perceived value. The mask has a little attachment piece for the back of the head, holding it in place securely.
According to the unboxing video, the Apple mask can be used five times for up to eight hours at a time—i.e., one mask will get you through a regular 40-hour work week. After each eight-hour shift, you’re supposed to wash the mask. So, theoretically, an Apple employee working a full time 40-hour work week would receive a package of face masks every week. That’s a lot of packaging.
The fit itself is a little different, too. Rather than the pleated layers of a single-use surgical mask, the Apple mask sort of folds out to fit snugly around the nose and chin, with a metal pinch point at the bridge of the nose.
— AppleInsider (@appleinsider) September 26, 2020
Like the dongle for iPhones without a traditional headphone jack, Apple could theoretically sell little component pieces, like the fastening piece behind the head, on their own, even if it’s just in a company store. And much like the Apple logo T-shirts store employees wear, the masks create even more branding opportunities and uniform possibilities for retail locations. For a company like Apple that prides itself on its aesthetic and brand, that’s paramount.
The other Apple design is a clear-front mask, which allows others to see the wearer’s mouth moving. This is especially important for when you’re speaking with someone who is hearing impaired and relies on lip reading. This mask, developed by another company, is a pretty simple design again, with two string fasteners that go over your head so the mask fits snugly. The bottom piece making contact with the chin juts out just a tiny bit. The wearer’s voice becomes a little muffled, but as the YouTube commentator said, that isn’t as important when the goal is to communicate with someone with hearing disabilities.
For companies that aren’t quite as serious as Apple about curating a certain look, there’s still a lesson here: Face masks still can play an important part in the whole uniform look. If employees are all wearing uniforms anyway, why not give them face masks with the company’s color scheme and possibly even logo to complete the look and add professionalism to the ensemble? And if you’re a distributor looking to sell face masks to companies that plan to add them to a company store or send them directly to employees, the packaging is all part of the branding experience, so it’s important not to overlook that space for additional logo placement.
You can make all the jokes you want about Apple being pretentious, but you cannot deny that they are geniuses (heh) when it comes to design and brand experience.