Google’s branding clinic: 3 reasons why its new Chrome spot works

The web is … well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? The web is what you make of it. It’s amazingly informative and blazingly deceptive. And increasingly, it’s video.
Which is the point of Google’s new spot.

Why does Google hope to build its brand — and its YouTube viewership, Chrome browser usage, and search engine business — by stating the obvious? Here’s my take:

  1. Cherry-picking message elements. Editing has become so tight these days, that one speaker rarely has time to express a complete thought. So the obvious solution in a mashup like this is to juxtapose unrelated thoughts into a new message. It’s a horribly dangerous and generally stilted thing to do in corporate communications… but in this case it works because Google was able to cherry-pick the coolest of moments from its immense YouTube library. Hats off to the researchers/producers who found what works.
  2. An authentic emotional arc. This is not the classic “fragmentation” of post-modernism … with all its confusing randomness. There’s a place for that, but in this case Google has a very coherent strategy, and the message is quite simple, linear, and logical. “We’re going to put at your disposal things that will…
    help you change the world;
    help you change yourself,
    help you participate in a larger community.”
  3. Integrating the Brand with the Branding. By amalgamating all these little, isolated, non-Google stories into one woven fabric that defines Google’s contribution to the web, the pixels combine to make a bigger picture. And the genius of the spot is that each little pixel stands entirely on its own. That, in essence is why the spot works: most people use Google to do their research and post their videos — so Google can authentically use the Brand to justify the branding vehicle it has chosen.

The Google Brand Experience

To users, Google services appear to be free. And to website owners who accept Google ads, the services seem to be like a cash machine that flows their way… as though they had been given solar panels by the city to put on their roof, and by using them the sunshine drives their electric meter backward. With that kind of actual brand experience, Google can effectively create a spot like this without the risk that its authenticity will be questioned. It’s simply an undisputed fact that Google is how most of us experience the web.

The Google Branding Message

Google’s branding message here is quite simple: “We want to empower you to do what you want. You want to know something? We’ll hook up a mechanism that intuits what you want to do and add power and leverage to your organism.” This spot works, then, because the Brand is so clear in people’s minds, it is relatively easy for the Branding (this spot and its story) to reinforce it.

Often I see companies who try to deliver a “you can do it” message, and because their authentic brand does not fit that attitude it comes off insincere and unconvincing. But companies that wrap themselves in that “empowering your will” mantra can pull it off … companies like Google, Nike and Pemco Insurance. (“We’re a lot like you — a little different.”)

By taking this approach, Google is able to reinforce its original power source, Search; its burgeoning video business; and its new Chrome browser.  The single Brand Experience is assembled by this clever spot into one unified branding message.

(Note: you might want to see my blog article on the difference between “branding” and an actual brand.)




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