Apple effortlessly topped Forbes Magazine’s 2016 list of the world’s most valuable brands with a net value of $154 billion, almost twice that of Google in second place. In fact, the total revenue of Apple is so big that it is larger than the GDP of Hong Kong. With the iPhone as the company’s leading money maker, Apple made more than $18 billion in the first quarter of 2016, the most any public corporation has ever made. But how did Apple achieve its unparalleled degree of brand loyalty, and what business strategies made the iPhone so successful?

In 1972, Steve Jobs was inspired to focus on design by a calligraphy course taught by Robert Palladino at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Today, Apple’s best known traits are its simple aesthetics and attention to detail. Although very little is known to the public about the company’s design process, it is apparent that design is Apple’s top priority in creating any product, especially the iPhone. According to Mark Kawano, founder of Storehouse and ex-senior designer at Apple, the reason that Apple products are designed so well isn’t that Apple has the best design team in the world, but that everyone at Apple cares about design, not just the designers. It is with this design and attention to detail that the iOS user interface, focused on creating a natural consumer experience, sets the iPhone apart from its competitors by creating an iconic, cult-like branding.

Looking at a few of the many examples of the iPhone’s small design features can show some of Apple’s meticulous attention to detail; in fact, many of these features are so naturally integrated into the operating system that they go unnoticed by the average iPhone user. For instance, on iPhone’s iOS 9 home screen, the older arrow button and slider are removed and replaced with a more minimalistic design of using “slide to unlock” text instructions that actually shine in the direction that the screen slides in. On newer iPhone models, many owners have noticed that when receiving a phone call they are presented with either accept and decline buttons or a “slide to answer” slider. The slider only appears when the phone is locked so that phone calls aren’t accepted or declined by accident.

With the newly released iOS 10, Apple further demonstrates its ability to keep up with current trends while remaining true to design by adding drawing and music sharing capabilities to their messages app through an expanding icon bar; this keeps the initial text box clean and simple. In fact, Apple’s simplistic design and extreme attention to detail have become so iconic that even the process of unboxing an iPhone is engineered with a series of arrows and stickers to please the consumer by slowly revealing the iPhone.

Similar to the iPhone, Apple’s stores and website are just as iconic. Apple is able to not only make a consumer-oriented iPhone experience, but also a consumer-oriented iPhone purchasing experience. For example, a simple look on the iPhone 7 website reveals how all of Apple’s selling points for the iPhone 7 are focused on the consumer experience. Apple advertises the iPhone with phrases such as “best performance and battery life,” “advanced new camera” and “brightest, most colorful iPhone,” all of which don’t necessarily use technical jargon to brag about the new features of the iPhone, but appeal to the large majority of consumers by using words that are universally understood. Instead of mentioning competitors by comparing how the iPhone is superior to alternative smartphones, Apple advertises the iPhone as if it is the only phone in the world, comparing its statistics to the previous iPhones using phrases such as “2x faster than iPhone 6” and “longest battery life ever in an iPhone.”

Using this clever advertising technique, Apple is able to market each new iPhone as an improvement to previous iPhones, generating constant sales for every new iPhone release. As for the iPhone 7, there has been controversy at the time of writing of this article regarding the lack of the headphone jack and Apple’s failure to release initial sales figures. Though Apple may be hiding the fact that the new iPhone may not be as profitable as the iPhone 6, its sales are still significantly higher than those of the best-selling android phone, with Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities estimating 70 million shipments of the iPhone 7 in the last quarter of 2016 compared to 13 million for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for the first half of 2016.

Looking at the design of Apple stores themselves also provides insight on how Apple brands the experience of purchasing an iPhone. With massive floor-to-ceiling windows at the entrance of each store, Apple stores are made to stand out with generously high ceilings, a clean modern look, copious walking space and, according to online expert averages, an average of $315,000 worth of iconic wood furniture per store. Apple is able to make shopping for an iPhone an experience that is truly enjoyable for the consumer. Their store design closely resembles their product design philosophy, creating a pleasantly predictable experience for consumers. Essentially, Apple has made the iPhone more than just a smartphone, but an integral part of consumer’s lives, and perhaps even a lifestyle.

Incorporated in the iPhone’s simple and detail-oriented design are multiple mechanisms that ensure that anyone who purchases an iPhone becomes an iPhone user forever. According to Slice Intelligence, 85 percent of 5,703 shoppers who bought the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on opening weekend had previously been using iPhones. Apple’s gradual changes in design, though viewed as a nuisance by some critics, create incentives to upgrade to the new iPhone, and its use of applications such as iCloud, iMessage and the App Store, which are exclusive to Apple devices, create preventative barriers to switching smartphones.

The iCloud connection between iPhone and Mac devices makes it tough for users to switch from iPhone back to another smartphone. With the newest iCloud features allowing consumers to sync Photos, Notes, Calendars, Contacts, and Documents on both their iPhones and their Macs, these users are discouraged from switching either their computer or smartphone devices to other brands since the iCloud features are unique only to Apple products.

In addition, Apple’s release of iMessage, an Apple ID-based messaging system that sends texts through Apple’s servers, has made it even harder for iPhone users to switch to other smartphones. Since iMessage can also be connected to Mac computers, Apple is able to further integrate its devices as consumers can send iMessages from Mac computers to other iPhones. In fact, the iPhone has become so popular that according to CEO Tim Cook, Apple’s iMessage system sometimes handles up to 200,000 messages per second. When compared to competitors such as Google’s “Hangouts,” iMessage retains the business edge by remaining exclusive to Apple devices, while Hangouts can be used on any web-browsing device. The high volume of communication exclusively between iPhones discourages users from switching to other brands and effectively creates a barrier to entry in the smartphone market.

With Apple’s clever business model and commitment to detail, it has become one of the most profitable companies ever. Its aesthetic, consumer-friendly products such as the iPhone are able to hold large profit margins and appeal to a broad customer base. The success of iPhone goes to show that businesses can make a lot more money by focusing on design and consumer retention.

It was a casual Wednesday night when I had first heard the news via Facebook: “A visionary died today. Steve Jobs, you will always be in my heart forever. Thank you for creating the iPhone; I love it!” Just like millions of people around the world, I was utterly shocked. The feeling of being part of the generation that witnessed the passing of such a monumental figure was overwhelming. Needless to say, I too posted a status lamenting the death of Steve Jobs. Soon afterwards, my entire Newsfeed page was inundated with similar status posts.

October 5th marked a historic day for many around the globe with the death of Steve Jobs. From the computer techies in the heart of the Silicon Valley to the trendy young folks in Shanghai, this news came with a heavy dose of sadness and astonishment.

Having served as the pioneer in leading the technological innovation for much of Apple’s history, Jobs garnered an international influence matched only by a few in the world. The Facebook status frenzy was yet only one out of the many testaments to his legacy. Although many would view his death as an inevitable end to a long phase in history, at the same time it marked the commencement of a new journey to the next generation.

Nevertheless, the question still remains – now what? We all knew that Jobs was nearing his time, but now Apple’s future hangs in the balance. The company seems to be taking a rather conservative approach in adhering to the core foundations that Jobs had envisioned. Timothy Cook, Jobs’ protégé and the current CEO of Apple, sent out a letter en masse to the Apple employees in late August, wherein he assured them that, “Apple is not going to change… Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world, and we are going to stay true to that.”

At the same time, there are others who feel that what Apple needs most in this post-Jobs era is an original Tim Cook method of corporate management. “Apple can’t fall into that,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s not, ‘What would Steve have done?’ That’s a recipe for problems.”

Regardless of the extent to how much Apple “changes,” one thing seems for certain. Jobs’ sheer physical absence may dampen the enthusiasm associated with purchasing the newest line of Apple’s products. I have even met people whose primary interest in purchasing Apple goods stemmed from having the assurance that the product was a physical realization of Steve Jobs’ imagination.

Apple is not merely a company established by Jobs; it also is the manifestation of his imagination for the future, a corporate embodiment of his creative genius. California’s government provided a clear manifestation of the people’s idolization of Jobs when Governor Jerry Brown officially declared October 16th “Steve Jobs Day.”

Jobs also had a tremendous impact on Apple’s stock prices. On January 17th, the last leave of absence that Apple’s board of directors granted for Jobs, Apple’s stock dipped 6.2%.# Furthermore, when Jobs announced his resignation, the stock prices faced another downward dip of 5.2% – from the time of his announcement to the closing of the stock markets for the day in New York City.

Now all of this information seems to boil down to one conclusion: Steve Jobs is literally the ‘Big Apple’ of Apple.

Without him, Apple will never be the same. Jobs’ death seems to closely parallel the death of another American iconic leader: Walt Disney. Unfortunately for the company, however, years of stagnation followed after Disney’s death due to ineffective management that was, in part, generated from the dependence on the firm leadership that Disney had provided. Hopefully, Cook will be able to learn from the lessons of Disney and develop his own legacy as Apple’s new CEO.

On a new note the iPhone 4S, the last Apple product to be built around Jobs’ vision, met with record-breaking sales, marking more than one million sales in the first 24 hours of pre-orders.

Jobs has left a legacy of success that persists to this day. I hope that this success will continue and, for all those in the world who have enjoyed his innovation, may Steve Jobs rest in peace.