Ben Wise on Branding

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Google, China, and the Importance of Brand Integrity

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Yesterday Google announced in a blog post that they would take a ‘new approach’ to China, which could result in eventually pulling out of the Chinese market in the name of free speech and security.

This will obviously hurt their bottom line as they could lose revenue opportunities from one of the biggest markets on the planet, but there is a substantial upside to this move: maintaining their brand integrity.

The Google mantra, ‘Don’t Be Evil’, is so widely known that it has become an integral part of their brand. When Google originally entered China and accepted the censorship that that required, many were upset that they were perceived to be betraying their mantra. While the possibility of exiting the Chinese market could cost the company billions of dollars now, in the long run the value of their brand and its ability to generate profit will be enhanced.

It is the tough decisions like this one that separates the average companies from the great ones. Great companies embrace the importance of their brand and nurture it is their most important asset. This is exactly what Google is doing. As Google launches more products that further permeate into other aspects of people’s lives, they will benefit from the feeling of trust and security that has become part of their brand. Others might sacrifice their brand for a faster profit, but will pay for their mistakes down the road.

In the end, Google is more likely to use this change as a step toward negotiations with the Chinese government than actually leaving the market. Either way, it is a courageous stand in the name of the mantra that has become a defining element of their brand.

What do you think? Should Google acquiesce to China’s censorship demands?

Written by benwisebranding

January 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Tech

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