Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Extending the Google Brand

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I recently wrote about the shift in internet use that is being brought about by mobile devices and mobile applications. In a nutshell, users are not going to be searching the internet for content, but rather relying on a select number of mobile apps that take them directly to what they want. For example, using the Wikipedia app instead of a traditional internet search.

The Google brand stands to suffer from this shift more than any other. Although Google continues to release exciting new products, including ones for mobile devices, nearly all of its revenues still come from search advertising. With a drop in search, Google’s revenue from this service will undoubtedly drop.

Luckily, at least for fans of the Google brand, the company is preparing for this shift. The Android mobile operating system is one example, but this can also be seen in efforts to monetize other Google products. Google recently introduced location-based ads to their Google Maps in Australia, a product that is regularly used on mobile devices.

One of the great strengths of the Google brand is its ability to adapt. Google has such a hold over search that people use brand name as a verb (“I’m going to Google it”), but they have also successfully expanded the scope of their brand to include other areas of the digital world. This isn’t limited to different products and services online. The Nexus One (aka the Google Phone), fibre optic networks, TV advertising – these are all examples of Google’s ability to continually extend their brand.

Google is able to accomplish this because they have built their brand around a benefit, not a product. Google is about helping people access information, whether through search, maps, online documents, and whether on their laptops, mobiles or televisions.

While other brands focus on a specific product, Google’s wider approach to their brand has given them to freedom to enter markets that other companies can’t because they are limited by their brand. You could even take the Google brand a step further and say the benefit it provides is the feeling of empowerment through knowledge, moving their brand from a functional to an emotional benefit.

Maintaining an emotional benefit in the minds of consumers is certainly not easy, but for brands that are able to accomplish this, the benefits can be great. An emotional benefit is much harder for a competitor to match than a functional one. Your product may be the fastest, but another brand could easily usurp that position. If your brand makes me feel safe, that is much harder to replicate. Apple makes you feel cool, Budweiser makes you feel manly, and Google makes you feel smart – great brands all playing on emotional benefits.

What do you think? Will Google’s brand let them adapt to a world without search?

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Written by benwisebranding

April 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

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