Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘Google

Google’s All Encompassing Brand

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Google logoBrandChannel has an article explaining that Google is making more of an effort to monetize YouTube through advertising. To anyone familiar with Google, this should come as no surprise. While the company continues to add more products to their expanding empire, they are at heart an advertising company. Everything they create is done in an effort to sell more ads.

Somewhere north of 90% of Google’s revenues come from their highly successful AdWords program. While these often cost less than $1 per click, for a brand with Google’s reach, all of those individual clicks quickly add up to tens of billions of dollars a year.

The brand follows a fairly standard approach to new product lines.

  • Launch a cool product
  • Refine based on user feedback while you grow your user base
  • Collect as much data as possible from users
  • If the product is able to achieve a wide audience, put some ads on it

Search is the clearest example of this, but the same pattern was evident with gmail. More recently, Google has started placing logos on Google Maps.

The beauty of this business model is that, despite what their financial statements say, most people don’t view Google as an advertising brand. Google has managed to separate their product from their revenues in the eyes of most of their users. An advertising brand would be limited in what they could do, but Google is able  to extend their brand in all sorts of new and exciting ways.

What do you think? How tightly linked is your brand to your revenue streams?

Written by benwisebranding

September 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Why Google Is Dropping Microsoft

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A couple of days ago, Google announced that they are phasing out Windows from the business operations. The reason? Security.

I don’t buy it!

This article from ComputerWorld does a great job explaining why security isn’t really the issue for Google. Basically, when hackers go after a company, they choose the company based on something other than their OS. Not to mention that the vast majority of the world’s largest companies find Windows to be secure enough for them.

So Why is Google ditching Microsoft?

The obvious reason is that Microsoft is increasingly coming into direct competition with Google – search engines, smart phones, web browsers. Before the end of the year, you’ll be able to add operating systems to that list. But what has changed to prompt the sudden shift?

Google’s next big push is getting computer users to embrace the cloud as their main source of software, particularly for enterprise users. This means moving from Microsoft’s highly lucrative Office suite to a cloud based solution. While Google Docs has been around a while now, it still isn’t perceived as a strong enough software package for enterprise users.

Google Is Leading By Example

Google’s move away from Windows and MS Office shows that there are other solutions viable solutions available to large enterprise customers. The interesting part is not that Google has switched, but it will be watching who follows suit.

What do you think? Why is Google dropping Windows?

Written by benwisebranding

June 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

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Yahoo! Ads Target Google but Miss the Mark

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The latest Yahoo! commercial (view here) takes dead aim at Google, the 800-pound gorilla of online search. While Yahoo! manages to highlight how they are different from Google, the commercial still misses the mark for the Yahoo! brand.

The commercial, which uses the slogan “Your favorite stuff all in one place. Make Yahoo your home page”, emphasizes that users can get everything they need through the Yahoo! portal. Fair enough. No one stays on the Google page after they found what they were searching for. I’m sure there are some internet users that prefer the one-stop shop that Yahoo! provides.

What Business Are You In?

The part I take issue with is the very start of the commercial where they show a screen with a single search box – clearly imitating Google. Making this the first image in the commercial makes search engines the frame of reference in the consumers’ mind. Yet Yahoo! goes on to say that they are not just a search engine – Yahoo! doesn’t even operate their own search algorithm anymore (they have outsourced this to Microsoft).

For Yahoo!, framing themselves in the context of search engines (ie Google), shows that they lack an understanding of what business they are in and who their real competitors are. If Yahoo! is a portal, they shouldn’t be comparing themselves to Google. While the rest of the commercial does a good job of showing their unique and differentiating attributes, this benefit is destroyed in the first 3 seconds when consumers are told to think about search engines, where Google is still the undisputed leader.

What do you think? Did Yahoo! miss the mark?

Written by benwisebranding

May 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm

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The Strategic Path of Brand Extensions, Revisited

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Only a few days ago I wrote about following a strategic path in brand extensions. I wanted to write a quick follow-up as a perfect example of this concept came out today when Google added calendar invitations to email messages (see article).

Google’s integration of their calendar and email services brings their offering in line with the ubiquitous Microsoft Outlook. The seamless integration between email and calendar has long been a key differentiating factor for Outlook and now Google is trying to move into that space.

Google can only credibly do this because of their existing capabilities in the separate areas of email and calendars. Had Google moved from a search engine directly to an integrated email/calendar platform that would have been a jump to far. But you can be sure that Google has seen this coming for a while and today’s announcement is just the culmination of their plan that started with the launch of Gmail.

After Google defined their desired end-state (take on MS Office) they have been able to map out the incremental brand extensions required to get there. Today is the latest step down the strategic path, but expect many more in their quest to bring all computing into the cloud.

What do you think? Will Google’s services replace MS Outlook

Written by benwisebranding

April 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

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?

Written by benwisebranding

April 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Too Much Brand Awareness

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There are a small number of brands where the brand name has become synonymous with its category. Kleenex is one of the best examples. If someone asks for a Kleenex, everyone knows they are asking for a tissue. Hoover is another good example in the UK.

Brand awareness this high is often seen as the pinnacle for marketers. But in many cases, it is not all it is cracked up to be. When I ask for a Kleenex, I don’t actually care which brand of tissue you hand me. Similarly, when grocery shopping, it may say Kleenex on my shopping list, but in reality I’ll buy whichever brand is on sale.

Why has this happened?

In this instance,  the brand name is so deeply associated with the category that it loses it’s meaning as a commercial brand. For many consumers the word Kleenex isn’t a brand, it’s a type of product, like a car or laundry detergent.

The Kleenex brand name is so pervasive in the category that it has lost its commercial meaning for most shoppers.

Find the Sweet Spot

The challenge for brand professionals is to reach the sweet spot where your brand has high awareness but maintains its association with the commercial brand that your company is selling. For example, Googling something means to search for it online, but it is still specific to the Google company. No one is going to Google anything on Yahoo.com.

What do you think? What other brands are in the sweet spot? What other brands are so pervasive that they lose their commercial value?

Written by benwisebranding

April 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Collaboration Gives a Brand an Advantage

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­With early reviews of the iPad hitting the blogosphere, Google has announced that their Chrome browser will now have Adobe Flash built-in. In case you haven’t read any reviews of the iPad, one of the biggest areas of contention is the lack of support for Flash.

It is easy to view this as a swipe at Apple (see here), and in many ways it is.

But at a deeper level, this is a profound statement about the Google brand. While Apple chooses to develop almost everything themselves with Steve Jobs holding the final decision of everything, Google works in a more open and collaborative way. This distinction should carry great weight with consumers.

Apple and Steve Jobs have been very good at understanding and addressing (and creating) consumer needs in the past decade. The iPod and iPhone have been revolutionary. But how long can a brand last if they plan on continually developing revolutionary ideas internally? At some point, you need to widen your pool of ideas.

This is where Google thrives. When they launch a product, they often do so in some sort of Beta form and are quick to make adjustments based on consumer feedback. Throwing their weight behind Adobe’s Flash shows they are willing to work with others to improve their own products. This might not deliver the creative spark of genius that Apple has used in their product development, but in the long-term it will satisfy consumer needs far better.

Google’s action show that it understands that their brand encompasses their entire business system, from product development, to marketing, to distribution. Collaboration is an essential part of Google’s brand system at all levels.

Apple may be everyone’s favourite brand right now, but it is the open and collaborative brands like Google that will see the most success.

What do you think?

Written by benwisebranding

April 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

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