Ten years ago, brandchannel quoted a Google spokesperson as saying “It seems counterintuitive to the concept of stickiness, but the point of Google is to allow people to find information as soon as possible and get on their way.” Ten years later, it appears Google would prefer its users to stay in its realm for as long as possible.
Google has come a long way since Sergey Brin and Larry Page started a research project at Stanford in 1996 that would eventually grow into a company employing 30,000 and producing nearly $30 billion in revenue each year. In doing so, Google has expanded its offering from a search engine to a full-fledged suite of services including email, social networking, cloud storage for files and music, and daily deals. Google even recently opened its own branded products store in London.
Google has always been an innovative company, but it has seen some of its innovative thunder stolen by others such as Facebook and Groupon. In order to remain the first-in-mind internet destination for its users, Google has decided to take to some of its web competitors on their own turf. Google+ takes aim at Facebook, and Google Offers is targeted at daily deals sites Groupon and Living Social. As it keeps rolling out new products, Google seems content to throw its brand’s name in front of just about any serve it’s offering: Google Voice, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc.[more]
Such brand extension has worked well for Google in the past, and the company has produced many successful products and added others through acquisition (such as its recent Zagat purchase). However, Google would do better to remain innovative with its products and their branding, as failed products could harm the brand. Despite all the initial hype and Google+ hangouts with celebs such as the Black Eyed Peas, Google Plus may continue to find it a challenge to compete with an established Facebook. In this race, Facebook benefits from a first-mover advantage and an established network effect. That is, the value of a social networking site to its users is highly dependent on the number of users using the service.
It is yet to be seen how some of Google’s newest offerings will shake out. Its Android mobile platform has see great success but has some obstacles to overcome, and one of its newest offerings, Google Music, will potentially be a big part of Android’s continued success. Google Offers has entered a competitive daily deals market, but the biggest player in the space, Groupon, is seeing slowing growth despite its IPO plans.
Google is still a strong brand (currently the world’s fourth most valuable, according to Interbrand). So strong in fact that Google is in some exclusive company as a brand name also included in the dictionary as a verb. Google shouldn’t ditch its strategy of putting its brand name in front of its various product offerings, but it should be careful to lose its history of innovation by creating and acquiring a suite of also-ran products that could tarnish its valuable name.