Brand Health Check: Just google it
The increasing dominance of the internet has started to influence the world's preference of brands. Google has officially been named the most valuable brand in the world, beating Microsoft, Walmart and IBM to the top spot in the 2011 BrandFinance Global 500 ranking. With a brand value of US$44.3 billion, it has pushed Walmart, BP and Nokia down the ranks.
But what's more impressive is that Google has achieved verb status for the word "search".
Known as a powerful solution that involves a "spider" that uses key words, hyperlinks and content from a website to define its ranking, Google is now the search engine to go to.
Aside from Google Search, its prowess has stretched far and wide to encompass productivity tools such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Reader, desktop apps such as browser Google Chrome, and advertising and analytic tools such as Google Analytics, Google AdWords and AdSense.
Meanwhile, Google has also tapped into the mobile phone world with the Android platform, which industry watchers have predicted may soon rise above the ranks of the formidable Apple.
In a report by BusinessWeek, David Lawee, vice-president of marketing for Google, said he had the easiest job in marketing. This was because the brand had taken on such a position that he did not need to do the usual polishing, or run any TV or print ads, to make its brand equity rise.
While things may look rosy for Google, Lawee said the challenge was to continually outdo itself.
"Brands aren't static things. They're like people. They grow, they learn, they evolve."
As a brand that has attained top spot, how can Google continue to thrive and make sure the success isn't short lived?
Regional director, South Asia
Clearly, the Google brand is healthy after being ranked No.1 by Brand Finance. The past decade has seen the brand become synonymous with search, and you're more likely to say "I'll Google it" than "I'll search for it online". Alongside its core business of search, other Google products such as Google Maps, Android and Gmail have gained strong traction, each becoming category leaders.
However, the technology space changes quickly and most excitement today is in the social world. Google's new +1 Button is the latest attempt to add social relevance to its products - others have included Google Buzz and Google Latitude. It will be challenging to get into the social space, but we can laud the inventiveness of Google in approaching the issue in multiple ways.
Additionally, Google is experiencing a shift from being the scrappy underdog to a giant corporation. There has been scrutiny for privacy concerns, data-mining and a plethora of other issues, shifting perception of Google away from its "Do No Evil" motto. The challenge is to stay true to its start-up roots, while maintaining growth.
- Evolve the existing corporate mission "to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" to something broader by plotting its future brand direction more clearly.
- Continue to focus on the employee brand - its people and culture.
- Continue to grow the not-for-profit arm.
Shouvik Prasanna Mukherjee
Google is the world's top brand because it delivers on a stated mission - to organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Its ensign oozes simplicity, fun, innovation and coherency - an incredible one-word campaign!
Google has celebrated its failures and diversified into a delicious spread of gingerbreads and honeycombs. It is ramping up efforts to supplement its core search advertising business with revenue from display and mobile ads. As the open source app ecosystem matures, Google Android is also going to give Apple a serious run for its money. Larry Page, the co-founder and new CEO, needs to bolster innovation and cut bureaucracy because Google faces its biggest challenges to web supremacy from social-oriented platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.
With its intuitive interface, real-time user studies, emotional branding and successful innovation management, Google is no longer just a brand name. "BackRub" (the previous name) could not have eased the pain better and made search child's play - because today we no longer search, we Google!
- Manage innovation in the open source ecosystem.
- Address privacy and security concerns to alleviate a possible Big Brother syndrome.
- Up the game in the social media sphere and optimise the consumer community.
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