4 Branding Lessons From Google's Alphabet Architecture
Google’s brand name is so powerful that it has become an official verb in our everyday vernacular – it’s even in the dictionary!
The tech company’s latest initiative, Alphabet, has generated significant buzz about stocks, investments and financial capital. While this is all valid discussion, we’ve been extremely interested in what Google’s recent restructuring can teach us about branding.
So to understand what this brilliant brand move really means, here are 4 important branding lessons you can learn from Google’s Alphabet.
1. Preserve Your Brand’s Integrity
Whether they’re navigating a self-driving car through San Francisco or funding ultra-hot startups like Uber and Slack, the Google name is practically synonymous with innovation. However, such innovations have proven to be so powerful in their own ways that they no longer fit beneath Google’s search engine nomenclature.
While revolutionary and necessary, each of these technologies have taken Google’s brand astray from its true brand mission, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This restructuring helps protect the integrity of the Google brand by stripping it back to the basics – Google is once again just a search engine.
According to Google’s announcement, organizing all of these separate units into their own brand provides “more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.” This way, Google can focus on providing the best possible search engine without being distracted by unrelated efforts.
2. Prioritize Brand Flexibility
We’ve written before about the importance of having a flexible brand. Alphabet is a perfect example of how to create more flexibility within an already existing brand, thus making room for growth. This new structure gives each of Alphabet’s brands the opportunity to take new risks without compromising Google’s brand name or mission.
Some of Alphabet’s new brands include Nest, a smart-home brand that creates products such as a cell phone-powered thermostat, and Calico, a health-focused brand which researches age-related illness and disease.
The financial separation of these brands means that investors can support them individually, giving each a chance to flourish without being undermined by Google’s powerful brand name. While this opportunity for advancement is also accompanied by an even higher standard for success, there’s no reason these expectations can’t be reached.
3. Design With Your Goals In Mind
Restructuring one of the most valuable brands in the world requires a strong and influential visual brand. To understand how Alphabet’s new logo aligns with the company’s long-term goals, the magazine WIRED asked some of today’s greatest branding and design experts to express their opinion.
Stephen Heller, a design critic and author who specializes in typography and graphic design, commented on the visual aspect of Alphabet’s new logo.
“It is a name so obvious and unthreatening that it personalizes the growing giant. The logo is similarly simple and accessible. Upper and lower case is nice and friendly and the “a” in particular is a nice subtle nuance.”
The chief creative officer at Siegel+Gale, Howard Belk, remarked on the Alphabet name itself, and how it provides the company with the ability to remain flexible.
“The Google brand and name is synonymous with “the internet.” This new name is a signal Google has plans to keep expanding in whatever directions it sees fit…choosing to put Google under an umbrella company shows that the company has plans for many more ventures.”
4. Prepare For Future Growth
Among all the great branding lessons that Google’s restructuring teaches us, this one is probably the most valuable. Google’s previous structuring was simply unsustainable – it placed strain on Google’s brand image and hindered the ability of its other innovations to flourish.
In Google’s announcement on August 10th, CEO Larry Paige stated that they are “not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products – the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.” According to this statement, it seems that Alphabet has deliberately paved the path for infinite growth.
Brands remain competitive only when they are able to create and deliver a meaningful brand mission. When growing companies create new products without a brand promise to guide them, their brand can become confusing and significantly less powerful. Google avoided this all-too-common problem by reevaluating their brand mission and creating a new brand structure. As a result, this prepares all of Alphabet’s brands for the future, while reinvigorating the Google brand name with simplicity, transparency and strength.
Michelle Polizzi is the Content Coordinator at Brandfolder, a user-friendly tool for brand asset management. When she’s not busy creating content, you can find her bicycling around Denver or catching a live concert. She’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn.