What Makes Google a Great Brand?
September 18, 2015
Surely it isn’t their logo.
Browse any list of companies considered most innovative, best to work for, offering the best perks or has the best reputation, and you’ll find Google at, or near the top.
Case in point: Fortune, Glassdoor and Forbes all ranked Google number one in their respective ‘Best Employers’ and ‘Best Companies to Work for’ lists in 2015.
In 2014 and 2015, BrandZ ranked Google the most, and second most valuable global brand at $159 billion and $173 billion, respectively.
Okay, we get it – Google’s a first-class operation and arguably the best brand in the world. But how does an innovative and progressive company like Google rise in the brand ranks with such a plain ol’ boring logo?
A Significant Improvement
The name, brand and logo of Google has always been synonymous with a simple blue, red, yellow and green serif typeface. Over the years, Google has tweaked its iconic multi-colored logo. Mostly changes to the shadow effects, the Google logo has stayed consistent over the last decade.
On September 1, 2015, Google underwent its most striking identity change. While it’s still a typeface-style logo, the new brand identity abandoned the classic serif and embraced a bolder, cleaner and dominant look. Hooray for sans-serif!
It’s still plain though, and mediocre by design standards – an opinion shared amongst branding experts.
The Dirty Secret of Brand Development
A top-class logo is important – it‘s often the first impression of a company. But here’s the dirty little secret of brand development – brand value has very little to do with your logo.
The snappy font, the progressive color palette and the whirly-gigs of a logo, mark, bug, icon (whatever you choose to call it) are fun to invent and dissect, but aren’t relevant in the big picture of brand development and value.
While a distinctive logo can positively influence brand recall, brand development has been, and always will be, an internal initiative focusing on employees, culture, processes, efficiencies, best practices and more. A positive experience with a professional and courteous store clerk influences brand value far more than a neat-looking thingamabob in corporate colors.
What Makes Google an Exceptional Brand?
For the sake of argument, let’s rule out that Google’s logo is what makes them exceptional. So what is it then? Why do they dominate the ‘best of’ lists worldwide?
As a Certified Brand Strategist (CBS) in The Brand Establishment, my brand training and experience leads me to the purpose or why the company exists (rarely do I start with the logo – the logo is the culmination of the purpose and the proven points of distinction). In the case of Google, their purpose is clear (because they tell us on their website):
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Succinct and ambitious, Google’s purpose sets the stage for an earnest and challenging mission. A mission that’s enthusiastically championed by its 53,600 employees. Which leads us to the next reason …
Like other world class companies, Google employees are empowered. Rightly so, Google staff believe they are positively changing the world and are working incredibly hard and are passionate about doing so. On their own website, Google says, “it’s really the people that make Google the kind of company it is.”
Google products are darn good. When you use the search engine, Google maps, Gmail, or Google analytics, you can rest assured it will work to perfection. Google believes that it’s best to do one thing really, really well. This is refreshing to hear, especially in a time when companies are becoming more “me too” and being “all things to all people.” Google started out focused on doing search really well, and then applied that knowledge and innovation as they expanded outward into new products.
Their (good) Innovation
Innovation for innovation’s sake is futile. Innovation with a specific purpose is valuable, if not essential for a company. Think about it, Google began in 1998 as a search engine. That’s it. No different than Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves or WebCrawler.
Now, Google powers smartphones (Android operating system), has arguably the best web browser (Chrome), crawls every corner of the planet for Google Maps and Google Earth, runs the largest, most successful video service (YouTube) and more. While the company has changed over the years, their goal has always been to make innovative products.
How Can Other Companies Achieve Google-Like Success?
For starters, contact a Certified Brand Strategist for an initial consultation. Aside from being a bright and creative bunch, we think differently about business and brand development. We speak a different language than a typical marketing or brand shop, a language that resonates loud and clear in the C-suite.
As brand strategists, we’re focused on getting companies to think outside their logo and to focus on company culture and improving customer experience. After all, it’s more than just a logo that sets one company apart from another. People don’t choose Starbucks over Dunkin’ Donuts because they like their logo better. They choose Starbucks for their in-store atmosphere, courteous service and quality products.
Want to know more about what’s made Google a best-in-class company? In the first few years of operation, Google staff drafted their “Ten things we know to be true,” which more or less, is their company philosophy. Check it out.
As a Certified Brand Strategist at Kelsey Advertising, Andy Fritchley helps clients with deep strategic thinking, innovative tactics, and killer creative. Having tinkered with and studied technology his entire life, it was only natural for Andy to wind up in a brand-building playground. His expertise rests in creative concepts, brand positioning, messaging, social media integration, mobile web, and mobile integration. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.