Google’s Biggest Branding Blunder – the Black Bar
You saw it. Google has put a black bar on its page. First I thought it was a “Memorial Doodle“ to remind us of a catastrophe like Katrina or Fukushima, but it stayed and can only be considered as the boldest and riskiest re-branding in Google’s history.
Google itself writes on its corporate homepage that “Google’s most valuable asset is our brand”. Merriam Webster defines a brand or trademark as a “distinguishing characteristic or feature firmly associated with a person or thing”. A brand is thus supposed to successfully transport the company’s values and ideas in a distinct way.
The original colorful brand of Google successfully transported the company’s key values like “You can make money without doing evil” “Work is fun” “You can be serious without wearing a suit” etc.
If you asked someone what characteristics he or she connected with the company’s brand, you heard “colorful”, “playful”, “harmless” or “transparent”. People trust(ed) Google.
Think about it. Google has the biggest server parks in the world. It is the dominating search engine. We use Google Voice, Gmail, Google+, analyze our homepages with Analytics, use Google Docs, store our data, buy books via Google eBooks. If you give a company so much information about yourself, the key for this relationship is trust. If you think that Google would plan to do evil things, would you share all the information? Of course not. You also would not give your key to an odd neighbor and you would not give personal information to a non-trustworthy company.
So the Google brand needs to transport trust and keep its juvenile or almost childish, playful and colorful image. We humans tend to “humanize” non-human objects like companies or cars. We think of the old VW-Beetle as cute because its front has the same features as the face of a baby with its big eyes and we think of Google as a playful child or a “nerdy teenager”, because of its colors and fun and enthusiastic employees who like to play with Lego. In our hearts Google does not feel like evil or serious business. We like it like friend.Continued on the next page