Google’s Alphabet: what a wonderful event the other day – one whose underlying genesis and intent has set our branding world on fire.
I’ve read great insightful comments on these pages, from every angle: naming, branding, TM-legal, business strategy, business operations, cultural, etc. and more perspectives will undoubtedly come up in the next few days. They are all correct and valid, but I see this event primarily as a huge behavioral and attitudinal example.
Let me speak for Brand Google: “Hi, I’m Google. When I was born, ‘brand’ (my cool name, my white space) helped me stand out, but pretty soon thereafter I could have called myself Jimmy or Vanilla and it wouldn’t have made one iota of difference (in fact, they would have been as maverick-ish a name as ‘google’); and in fact, I proceeded calling my subsequent products in every which way (‘Chrome’? +? etc) and in a variety of google-linked or not ways, and noone ever questioned it nor my business/es was/were impaired by it. You know why? My ‘brand’ is not my ‘desired perception’ or whatever other definition is out there — My Brand is the indispensable nature, and prowess of course, of my products (and yeah, I present them well too). Just like my good friend Apple: from Apple to Macintosh to i-Everything, including the joint-name-hybrid iMac, to then Apple Watch, all co-existing, it’s technically an haphazard branding mess – but again, just like me, their Brand is product prowess, design, and worth to humankind. Both of us have been breaking all the rules of ‘good structural branding’ and … here we both are, at the top of every conceivable ‘brand ranking’. Having said that, make no mistake about it, we highly cultivate and attentively manage the perception that those products have earned and keep earning us – regardless of how they are named and how they relate to one another (which people kinda know anyway). This “Alphabet” move is a very logical and frankly necessary (in fact, why did I take this long to do it?) business structure-related move, not a branding one, and I could have called it pretty much anything with no adverse consequences. But in time, sure, I’ll clean up (maybe) my other properties’ branding structure to make a bit more sense, contribute more to one another, and optimize how we do business – but I’m not in a rush to do so, nor I feel I have an urgent reason to ‘fix anything’, really.”
Personally, for years I’ve been watching in awe Google’s and Apple’s disregard for ‘good branding practices’ as they relate to structural brand relationships and naming approaches, and always pushed back in meetings when these two companies were brought up by clients as ‘good examples’. Let’s leave them out of the Analogs we think of — God forbid we’d suggest to pretty much any other of our clients to do what they do Brand Architecture-wise. These two companies are special, per-se they have no competition and live on their own branding planet, and can get away with branding approaches that would seriously hurt every other company. Let’s just applaud, and enjoy in our daily life, the contributions they make.