from LinkedIn Pulse 28 Nov 14 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Google is among the world’s most valued brands, at over $44 Billion. And this Thanksgiving, I want you to know, the Google brand, and the others are all yours for the asking. Happy Holidays!
Google is not just a Brand, it’s much more. Each of the richest companies is a group of people that have come together, to accomplish the common purpose of sustaining or growing the company and growing its social & financial power.
A Company is not a Brand. But companies may own & perpetuate “brands”. At least they can own brands – if a brand is truly defined as one of the following:
1) a product produced under a particular name, with an identifying mark
2) a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from others, so that it can be easily communicated
3) a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from others
Brands are often created & perpetuated by companies, media, or individuals, and therefore brands are products (ie, Android). However, products, even if publicly distinguished for easy communication, are physical goods, services or ideas; perhaps brands.
Products can be “branded”. An adjoining set of ideas surrounding a physical good, service, or person, can be branded. But 1) a manufactured product is not a brand, 2) an identifying mark is not a brand, and 3) a ‘logo’ or merely a graphic representation meant to evoke thoughts & associations of the brand itself. The unique designs, symbols and words that marketers use to perpetuate brands are essential in branding operations, and often some of these shape the brand or become part of consumers’ brand associations, but these are not brands either.
So what does Google actually own? The brand of Google, for example, is the sum of the company’s attributes that form specific perceptions in the minds of not only the company’s customers, but society at-large (ie, users & non-users). Because G’s brand can represent a set of concepts that are dramatically different in your mind than are evoked in my mind, we use these concepts to add value to our lives, I argue that the brand belongs individually to each consumer, not the company.
Each individual understands Google differently, than other individuals do. The idea of Google – and related attribute understanding that exist in an individual’s mind – altho influenced by G & other info sources, are an outcome of the individual’s own information filters and willingness to shift what s/he thinks to be true about the company and its attributes (ie, selective exposure, selective comprehension). 1) The set of associations that exist in the individual’s mind are owned by him/her, and controlled by him/her, and 2) the individual will use this set of associations to add “value: to his/her own life via intelligent decision making, marketplace comparisons, advertising evaluations, seeking out social relevance, etc.
The Google brand that exists in each mind is their asset, not G’s, altho’ G created it. Thus Google does not own the G brand. What Google owns is some power to leverage over-lapping understanding of its ‘brand.’ And so do competitors. The brand that get valuated is the ‘common set of associations’ that are shared by society at large – the associations that, for the most part, you and I + the rest of the world share – the associations that we use to choose Google as our Search Engine, for our advertising placement, for our biz apps, and the associations that for better or worse, cause us to be willing to pay a premium for Google’s services.
This “’brand consensus’” can be leveraged by Google – and as such – is typically treated for valuation purposes, as an asset of the company. Valuators treat our collective equity, or tendency to use & reuse, and pay more to Google as an asset, even though it’s really just more of Cash Flow inertia assigned to the brand consensus.
Google, is not the only Search Engine. Microsoft’s Bling has capability to challenge G’s brand consensus (competitive influence). Even you and I own that power (ie, using Google as an inferred example of a leading brand in this article and mentioning some of it’s services beyond web searches). Defining Google’s name & services as brands may be better after all; as we all own it as we choose to understand it.
At this time of year or anytime, be thankful for Brands. They may not add the same collective financial value to your life, that they do for the companies that harness the brand’s power over aggregated consumer decision making, but you use brands as a perception of the value you get from that brand
Comment: How do you do use Brands to make decisions? Share your thoughts.