Google Branding Strategy
The “don’t be evil” Google enjoys an immaculate branding strategy which has proven to be one of the most brilliant and effective branding strategies ever witnessed. Google has an unsullied image that sparkles cleaner than Coca Cola, Pepsi, Ford, Gap and AT&T combined. Just a few months back, Google beat out Starbucks, Apple Computer, and Coca Cola to claim BrandChannel. com’s Brand of the Year title. A recent study by Brand Keys revealed the obvious: Google is #1 of all Internet brands for brand loyalty. If you’ve ever been online, the irrational and almost fanatic brand loyalty of Google fans is hard to miss.
One can only imagine if given the choice between GoogleGuy and Jesus Christ today, we would most likely be mourning the loss of The Nazarene again. When critics do question the moral superiority of Google, the Google groupies rush to defend their icon of all that is pure and good, saying “Google is completely objective” and “Google is a shining star,” and quoting the Google doctrine, “PageRank – and Google – is the democracy of the web. ” Integrity Google’s complex, automated methods make human tampering with our results extremely difficult.
And though we do run relevant ads above and next to our results, Google does not sell placement within the results themselves (i. e. , no one can buy a higher PageRank). A Google search was an easy, honest and objective way to find high-quality websites with information relevant to your search. Co-Branding Google & Democracy Compaq builds credibility with consumers by co-branding products with the Intel and Microsoft logo. The brand Dodge at one point was nothing more than a punch line; the brand found redemption only after co-branding their trucks with the respectable Cummins Diesel name.
Google set its sights a bit higher, and has successfully co-branded the Google brand with the ideal of democracy itself. Notice the language: uniquely democratic nature, and Integrity. Honest and objective? Are they running for political office? What’s next? Are we going to see press releases with Sergey Brin kissing babies and making impassioned speeches to the down-trodden masses? The presentation of Google as a noble and altruistic organization, whose only concern is the honesty and integrity of the World Wide Web, is not a two-cent branding technique. Up till now, search engines rose and fell with the accuracy of their search results.
Google’s branding strategy is a masterpiece in terms of branding: By branding itself as the morally superior search engine, they have safeguarded themselves against a quick demise. If and when a competitor develops a more relevant search algorithm, that competitor will instantly become public enemy #1 purely by virtue of the threat it poses to the most beloved search engine, Google. As you can see, Google has taken the issue of search quality out of the equation. It’s no longer about who provides the best search results; it’s about who kisses the most babies: Public relations.
The message is, Google cares about you; Inktomi doesn’t. Is it true? Not in the least. It’s pure branding strategy. Google claims that PageRank is “honest and objective”. Google claims that PageRank is safe from human tampering. It isn’t. Google has often manually adjusted the PageRank of sites, pages and entire IP ranges. When Google needs to, it lowers the PageRank of competitors. When it serves their financial interests, they tweak the algorithm in favor of those with whom they do business. And it’s perfectly alright for them to do so – Google is a business, not a charity. Its defining purpose is to create wealth.
This purpose governs all its activities and decisions, as it should. Strategy Analysis Benefits Google did not invent this branding strategy. It has been around since the dawn of time. It’s simply the “I’m your friend” branding strategy on a huge scale. Go to any South Florida retirement community, and you’ll most likely find a dozen or so ex-convicts using the “I’m your friend” approach to con elderly folks out of their life savings. This is one reason most big businesses avoids using this branding strategy – because it is an integral part of every confidence scheme. Liabilities
The major drawback in this strategy is its limited demographic appeal, and it’s potential for backlash. Potential for Backlash Why did Daniel Brandt create a website called Google-Watch. org? Some people would say it is because Google did not give him the top ranking that he wanted. But Inktomi did not give him top ranking, either, and he did not create Inktomi-Watch. org. Neither did he create AllTheWeb-Watch. org or AskJeeves-Watch. org. Why? Because Inktomi, AllTheWeb and AskJeeves never claimed to be democratic. They never claimed to be morally superior; they never laid claim to “integrity” or “honesty and objectivity”.