These are moves in the wrong direction: Google needs more distinctive brands, not fewer.
While the multi-brand strategy didn't work for Yahoo, Yahoo had many other integration/prioritization problems.
The fact that YouTube had a different, more-market-appropriate name than 'Google Video' was important for its identity and success. (Or is Google going to rename YouTube to "Google+ Video", now?)
'Blogger' is a uniquely-interesting brand for them to throw away. If launched today, the word would almost be too generic for trademark protection. But its history practically grandfathers it in: its popularity was part of the mechanism by which 'blog' became a generic term.
It's a bit older, but the book "Positioning" takes a pretty hard line against "line extension":
> From the prospect’s point of view, line extension works against the generic brand position. It blurs the sharp focus of the brand in the mind. No longer can the prospect say “Bayer” if he or she wants aspirin. Or “Dial” for soap. In a sense, line extension educates the prospect to the fact that Bayer is nothing but a brand name. It destroys the illusion that Bayer is a superior form of aspirin. Or that Dial is deodorant soap rather than just a brand name for a deodorant soap
Yeah, I think I've read about a dozen of his books. But there's also such thing as "halo effect" (I think there's a book on this, too). Take the "i" letter for all Apple products now. It works the same way.
The halo effect makes it so all the children products benefit from the main product's influence, but it can also work the other way around, so they have to be very careful not to brand a crappy product like that, because then it will end up affecting all the others in a negative way.
It's also very important that they keep re-inventing themselves at least every 10 years (like Google is doing now). Because otherwise they risk becoming "the product my dad used", or uncool like that. Who thinks Yahoo is still cool now? 13-14 years ago they were "the Internet".
I know absolutely nothing about marketing so I may be wrong, but the problem I immediately see with this is that one can only make so much money selling aspirin or soap. I assume that at a certain point these brands realized that the brand name was more valuable in terms of the credibility and instant recognizability it could lend a larger array of products than its value attached to a single one, even if the name is affected negatively in the context of that single product.
The authors recognize that. The problem is that line extended products don't connect to the things you have associated yourself with in the customer's mind. If Dial makes body wash...line extension is probably acceptable. If Dial makes toothpaste, deodorant, or snack food the connection of Dial <=> soap isn't there as strongly.
They make the point that in long run you're diluting your brand. You can only occupy one particular place in someone's mind with a single brand. Owning that position is valuable. Owning 'they do everything' is not really a winner. That feels like 'they do nothing well.'
Yep. There are plenty of counter-examples of companies that set up different brand names that become stronger than a shared brand could ever be. For example, Unilever has many strong brand names: http://unilever.com/brands/?WT.GNAV=Our_brands
Large breweries often have many different brands that are perceived differently by people.
It's hard to build a strong brand name, but if you can pull it off and avoid line extension, it's the better way.
I think these brand examples aren't very apt. A better comparison is Craftsman from Sears. They make a crap load of tools from wrenches to weed whackers, but all of them benefit from the quality Craftsman brand aura. So when Sears developed/bought those new wacky auto-hammers they branded them under the Craftsman label.
I don't think that for Sears' target market, you want to own something as narrow as "wrenches" in people's minds. You want to own "tools", so having a fairly wide array of them probably isn't damaging.
One of the two books, Positioning or Immutable Laws of Marketing, also mentioned that the companies that have switched their positioning have destroyed their existing brand and recreated it in a different way.
I think that Google and all the major tech companies are re-positioning themselves as technology companies rather than search, ecommerce, hardware, etc.
To me personally the examples make sense, but don't anymore if I replace Bayer with Google I my mind (or Apple for that matter). The reason is that Aspirin is a commonality. There is no better or worse Aspirin. With web search on the other hand this is not true.
I think that's true for each of the products, and even the set of products taken as a whole, but perhaps not from the perspective of trying to use them as a captive audience to jump-start Google+. My read (perhaps wrong) is that Google thinks getting into the social-network game is important enough that they're willing to make moves that from other products' perspectives are negative, in order to achieve it.
Weak brands dilute the core brand in saturated markets.
Perfect branding lies in the sweet spot between unique and recognizable (or self-explanatory for domains, see my post on this http://t.co/ecbsWcp), but it depends on mindshare.
"GMail" is in the sweet spot between the faceless title "Google Mail" and the unrecognisable "Jabberwocky". YouTube won the mindshare landrush for consumer video and became a household brand name. Rebranding it would be dumb.
Picasa, on the other hand, is similar to "Google Reader" in that it solves a smaller problem in a highly crowded market. Smaller brands with multiple competitors strengthen the core "Google" brand by living under the umbrella as "GPhoto", "Google Brush" or "Google Reader", for example.
I'm not surprised that they aren't rebranding YouTube (it's pretty much the most recognizable website title in the world, way more than Blogger IMO), though I continue to be surprised that they haven't integrated it more by including the horizontal google-bar at the top and doing something about merging YouTube and regular google accounts.
" including the horizontal google-bar at the top "
I believe this would just make everything too complicated than it needs to be for the average user; besides, the likelyhood is that the user already uses Google, so there's no need for Google to try and reel users in via a search applet (that would probs make YouTube look ugly).
And, aren't Google Accounts already merged with YouTube Accounts ?
You can still avoid it if you really want to. My account is now a google account but my flatmates youtube account is still separate. They keep bugging him but he keeps dodging it, wont agree to the new terms.
hell no, its the best thing they can do. everyone saying that this didnt work for yahoo oder microsoft are just picking companies where something failed but not necessarily ou of this reason. should i now list every xompany in the world that has a strong corporate identity and design and is successful? its basically every successful company. this is stuff that works and that is good.
i want my google services with one brand and one design. i click through my services and everthing looks completely different, this is what is really wrong.
Indeed. To me this sounds very much of a piece with any of the routine bullshit "stragetic positioning" and "synergistic realignments" that typical brain-dead mega-corps do all the time. Even today nobody asks where to find the nearest FedEx Office, they want to know where a Kinko's is, years after the brand has allegedly been killed.
Joel Spolsky had it nailed the best, these sorts of moves are a "strategy tax" on big companies.
I'm really impressed with the speed and scope of these recent changes Google has made. Most giant tech companies wouldn't be able to pull this off. Could anyone imagine Microsoft doing anything this big and fast? I can't.
Within only two console generations, they went from having zero presence in the market outside of publishing some games for Windows, to one of now only three major players in the landscape. For millions of gamers, the Xbox is their first choice for games. They pushed Xbox Live to market, after years of Nintendo and Sony saying consoles were going to go online. They weren't the first console to go online, as the Dreamcast shipped with a modem, but Xbox Live was the first wild success. Nintendo and Sony scrambled to launch their not ready for market Ethernet adapters for the Gamecube and PS2.
Then, four years after the Xbox 360 had already been in homes across the globe, they reinvented the platform with the NXE (New Xbox Experience) update, that moved to make the console more family friendly, pushed entertainment options like Zune and Netflix to the forefront, and arguably set the ground work for what was to come with Kinect.
Yes. I could see Microsoft do something big, fast. Because they did.
You're both correct that Microsoft has done product launches which were big and done quickly, but that's different than what Google is in the process of doing.
Yes, Google launched their big product: Google+ which would be comparable to Internet Explorer or Xbox.
But Google has also redesigned all their main products, integrated many of them, and is going to rebrand other products. That's much more difficult than just launching one product. It involves more cooperation and effort from the entire company rather than just a division.
This is true, and something Microsoft has shown to lack, cohesion between units.
One of the reasons Internet Explorer 4 was integrated as deeply in to Windows as it was, is that Microsoft was betting on the Internet being a big deal, but executing it in the wrong fashion. Beyond integrating the browser in to the OS, there wasn't a real plan there, and it came to be a security issue by the time we got to IE6 and XP.
Microsoft tried to relaunch/rebrand Windows as a gaming platform with their Games for Windows initiative around Vista, which integrated Windows games to some degree with Xbox Live. But the idea was never fully integrated in a way that added any value for consumers, and many publishers skip the Games for Windows branding as it requires additional certification to attain the branding.
Then there's the Zune, a perfectly capable device that was never able to find its niche. The Zune name lives on in the music and video marketplace on the Xbox dashboard, but a synergy between Microsoft's products, brands, and services with the Zune was never struck, and now the device is dead.
So in this, Google's ability to draw everything together with a laser like focus, and actually seem to commit to this thing is a switch, for them or any company. I agree.
You could argue that this is Google's Internet Explorer moment. Disruptive technology comes along that threatens entrenched tech giant's core business. Tech giant is still lead by its brilliant, passionate founder, and still filled with many smart people. Big long memo is sent out by one of the company's VPs. Senior engineers are pulled off other projects and brought together on one team, first to catch-up to the new challenger and then to surpass it. The rest of the company is realigned to support their efforts.
Remember that Microsoft did do something this big and fast once - they won the browser wars. They probably couldn't do it now that Ballmer's in charge. But in Microsoft's heyday...yes, they could.
I'm hoping this isn't what I'd call Google's Microsoft stage - being focused on an area that a relative upstart dominates, with little results.
Internet Explorer was 'successful', but mainly as a block to prevent anyone else from being dominant in the browser space. What comes to mind is Microsoft's attempt to replace Google by imitating them thoroughly with Live search and then Bing, that coming after other projects such as MSN, an equally lame clone of AOL.
There does seem to be a big cultural difference between Google and Microsoft in that Microsoft was always focused on winning while Google's is focused on innovating. It seems baked into their corporate DNA. I know many Google+ engineers that will bristle if you suggest that it's just a Facebook clone. It's a necessary evil that it looks a lot like Facebook now, because there's a certain baseline set of functionality that users need in a social network and you can't just ignore it to be different. I'd be very disappointed, and I think many other Googlers would too, if Google+ was only just as good as the incumbent.
Of course, a lot will depends on what comes down from the top - the reason IE is lame is because it was destaffed after Microsoft won the browser wars. From what I know about Larry Page's personality, though, this doesn't seem like something he's likely to do.
Personally, I don't see Google+ as an FB clone either. Awarding FB the 'rights' to social networking features is reminiscent of a non-deserved software patent - the functionality of FB is not unprecedented, non-obvious or original. Their success is in bringing it all together in one place successfully. Talking to friends and sharing materials with them is a natural way that people are going to use the internet.
When I heard about G+ my thoughts were along the same lines as the recent posts from MySpace's founder. Google has offered these services for years, but they have not been well integrated with each other or presented as a unified product. Overall Picasa, Buzz, Profiles and so on have not been branded or marketed well. Putting these together makes sense. I'm glad Google has done it and I'm pleased to see it's being well received.
What seems new for Google is how this is a 'real identity' network. There's a key difference between communities where one can choose between a real name, anonymity or a pseudonym, exemplified by sites likes on YouTube, Reddit or your average random web forum, vs. the Facebook style where policy requires that you use your given name and have a single identity. Each style engenders a different dynamic, and has benefits or drawbacks. Maintaining the right to and acceptance anonymity on the internet is a quite important cultural issue in my opinion, however.
I definitely agree that Google and MS are very different companies, personality wise. MS's style is to copy competitors products, cargo-cult style, but miss the overall point. They seekt want to eliminate competition without really caring about the original point of the product - IE was just one in a long line of examples of this. They definitely don't care about improving the product after they eliminate the original, I suppose because the product or what it did was never the point. I don't think Google is like that at all... A company's behavior so often reflects the behavior of the people who run it at a high level, and the two founders of Google are not at all like Gates or Ballmer.
It's important to note though, that Microsoft only accomplished that by bundling it with their OS (which they'd gotten to near monopoly status through a long series of dirty tricks). Then they tightly integrated its code to prevent removal. They attacked alternative projects at every level from PR/FUD to lawsuits. They used things like Active-X to create technology traps which they wantonly inflicted on naive customer, totally against the customer's interests. They increased lock-in at every step, making it easy to use other program's settings but hard to migrate away. Just as we hear Facebook is doing, blocking tools for reading your own data.
Google on the other hand, is offering services without any lock-in or bundling. You can export your setting easily.
They're doing something much harder, and that we rarely see. They're competing on value. If they want users to stick around they'll have to treat them as the customers.
It could, eventually, usher in a new age in software - one where you didn't just tolerate failure because it came bundled with your hardware.
I'm not entirely sure that IE only became successful because it was bundled with the OS. In many ways, it really was the better browser. It rendered faster than Netscape, its UI was for the most part cleaner, it introduced innovations like the XHR, and it was even more standards-compliant. (Shocker I know, but does anyone remember trying to do DHTML with Layers in Netscape 4?) The reason I switched from Netscape 4 to IE5 wasn't that IE5 came with my computer (the first thing I did with a new computer was to download Netscape anyway), it was that Netscape 4 flat out hung when I tried to visit many websites.
Microsoft also did all this shady stuff with bundling it into the OS because that's apparently how they operate, but I'm not actually sure this made all that much difference in winning. It certainly wasn't what won me over.
IE 4 was better than Netscape 4, but the average user - the vast majority of not-terribly-technical sorts - goes with whatever's on the computer to begin with. Microsoft probably could have won the browser war (albeit much later, and less completely) simply with bundling a not-quite-as-good-as-Netscape browser.
> Google on the other hand, is offering services without any lock-in or bundling.
There isn't lock-in, but they do seem to be trying for the bundling, where they're jump-starting a new product (that people may or may not want) by trying to tie it to existing popular products, not entirely in an opt-in manner. It'll be interesting to see how exactly the process plays out; they do appear to be aware of the potential for backlash if they're too strong-armed about forcing Blogger and Picasa users into Google+, but they also seem pretty interested in strongly nudging them towards it.
Looming further on the horizon, it'll be interesting to see whether they try to integrate Google+ and the similarly-named "Google +1" more closely, as a way of getting Google+ into search (their big dominant-market-share product that's an obvious candidate for bundling, at least if antitrust regulators don't get upset). The +1 product much more overtly tries to leverage search; e.g. it's on search results by default now, and information about how it affects search results is on the Webmaster Tools console.
I'm not so sure that it's fast, just well organized. The extreme would be to release the product and restructure the entire system "overnight": the implementation took X years but the changes were made available quickly.
This looks more like the pieces just falling into place, though I agree, the scale is a bit staggaring.
From reading the article, it doesn't sound like Google is going to make major functional changes to the products. Rather, the article suggests that Google is going to rename and rebrand the products to be more consistent with their other product names.
Yes, the individualized product names don't really fit with the sandbar. Blogger was probably OK (it's clear what it does), but Picasa doesn't communicate what it does well, and worse, the Sandbar calls it "photos" but then you land at the Picasa page, and you're not sure whether it's correct or not.
Great news, I hope the Picasa re-branding comes with a much-needed visual overhaul (similar to the redesigns that came to Gmail, Calendar, etc). Picasa and Google Reader are the last two remaining products in my daily use that desperately need a visual refresh.
> We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.
I couldn't find any such info (forcing user profiles to be made public) about Google+, but anyway I find it a little bit strange coming from Google, or any other company for that matter.
For crying out loud, at least FB gave me the option of my name not showing up in any of their searches. That's why when I google my FB profile name it's nowhere to be found in the first 10 pages, because I don't want the whole world to know what friends do I have or which photo did I choose to represent me. It's like giving the option of everyone who has access to the Internet of entering my living room while I'm having a beer with my friends, at least this is how I perceive it.
Or maybe Google+ just wants to be more like Twitter and less like FB, I cannot really tell, either way, I won't ever use it because of this.
And remember kids: making these kinds of brand/logo changes are what earns folks the Big Bucks. solving hairy concurrency bugs at 2am, dealing with a site outage? $100k/yr. "managing brands", consolidating them, moving the deck chairs around: many hundreds of thousands per year, sometimes millions. it's not about how hard what you do is, it's about "impact" and/or how close you are to the top of the org tree. :)
No. Blogger has a generic stigma. You say the word blogger all the time, but rarely do you actually think of blogger.com. Actually, I never think of blogger.com. And we're talking about brand power/brand recognition, not how popular the sites are.
YouTube certainly has a stronger brand but when blogger is referenced I only see it either referring to a person who blogs or Blogger and the two are pretty easy to differentiate. E.g. "a blogger", "the blogger" refer to a person blogging vs "on blogger", "with blogger" that refer to blogger.com.
Am I the only one who doesnt see the direct connection between rebranding Blogger & Picasa & G+ push? I think its more of a good timing for it because everybody focuses towards G+ now. If the growth of the two services were satisfying there wouldnt be need to change anything.
It's really nice to see Google with a clear direction, operate with determination, going "all in", consolidate it's different offerings into something that will, I'm guessing, be greater than the sum of the parts.
Sad to see the name Blogger go, it's just so much more unique than Google Blogs. They're both pretty generic sounding names, but Blogger has a history behind the name. Google Blogs is like...Facebook Blogs, Yahoo Blogs and (Insert Generic Blog or Blog Host Name Here).
I've noticed Google+ imported my Blogger images though, it'll be interesting to see how they incorporate Google Blogs from Blogger into Plus. I'll still be sad to see Blogger go though.
(DISCLAIMER: not terribly relevant, may contain nostalgia.)
It's not that big a deal that a big company is rebranding its products. I certainly won't rant or protest that. But since I no longer have a blog, I thought I should leave an in memoriam here.
Their retiring the "Blogger" brand makes me a little sad. I made my first blog there at age 13, and I learnt a lot about HTML and CSS over the following years thanks to Blogger. In a way, Blogger was my BASIC. I eventually outgrew its simplicity and scope, got a domain and some space (at a friend's mom's server) and started mixing Blogger's templating code with PHP and Perl. That site was my platform to learn code and its political implications.
Forward to high school, a few friends and I had a group blog which got sort of popular among the student body. We had buttons pressed with the Blogger logo. We wore it with pride. The implications of the web were gaining momentum among our generation right about then.