Episode 59


What does it mean to be a brand?

One of the most critical barriers to success is understanding what a brand is and what a brand is NOT.  I get this question all the time. Let me tell you what a brand is NOT: A brand is NOT a name, logo, tag-line, package design or the product itself. I call these elements: Window-dressing your brand. A brand is simply an EMOTIONAL IDENTITY that differentiates products, services and people

As a former marketing executive at global multi-billion dollar consumer products companies like Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Cadbury and Godiva, I successfully crafted emotional identities for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Over the course of 25 years, a frequent challenge I faced was communicating the role a brand played in consumer’s lives…in other words its Core Value. To solve this problem, I developed a process to label that brand’s Core Value using just ‘One Word’.  This helps consumers understand what they are actually buying. 

During this series, I will select a brand I worked on or studied and share it’s ‘One Word’ Core Value, as well as share valuable topics in the branding arena that will help you Stand-Out Conquer Obstacles and Reach Excellence…in other words, SCORE.

So let’s turn to today’s brand clip…GOOGLE

Show Notes (click to expand)

I have to start out by saying that if you’ve never heard of the brand Google, then you’re definitely living under a rock. Go search the internet…just kidding! I’m going to assume that if you’re listening to this podcast episode, then you’ve been online in the past decade or two and are fully aware of this brand.

Let me start with the basics anyway. Google is a tech company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Their primary product is a search engine and you can get to the Google search engine by typing in the search bar GOOGLE.COM.

Ok – glad we got that out of the way.

Having spent over 25 years in Brand Marketing, one of the things I love most is learning about how companies came up with their names and logos. If you’re like me, you use Google multiple times a day, but have you ever wondered how Google got its name? or how it came to be?

Well I’m about to tell you.

For starters, Google has not always been the name of the popular search engine. The story began in 1995 at Stanford University. Larry Page was considering Stanford for grad school and Sergey Brin, a student there, was assigned to show him around. The following year they formed a partnership. Then working from their dorm rooms, they built a search engine that used links to determine the importance of individual pages on the World Wide Web. They called this search engine BackRub…NO JOKING…that was the original name of Google!

Why the name BackRub?

Because the search engine analyzed the web’s “back links” to understand how important a website was, and what other sites it related to. 

By 1997, Larry Page decided that the name BackRub wasn’t going to cut it (YOU THINK…GOOD MOVE LARRY…JUST SAYIN’) So Larry and his friends at Stanford brainstormed different names for their search engine technology, names that would evoke just how much data they were indexing. The name “Google” actually came from a graduate student at Stanford named Sean Anderson, who suggested the word “Googolplex” during a brainstorming session…”Googolplex” spelled G-o-o-g-o-l-p-l-e-x! 

The name “Googol” – spelled G-O-O-G-O-L – is a play on the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros and aptly reflected Larry and Sergey’s mission, “To organize the world’s information and make it universally ACCESSIBLE and useful.”

Larry liked the “Googol” part of this word, and felt like the word in general was a great fit for what they were trying to do: Index an unfathomable number of Internet web pages.

Sean, not realizing “Googol” was spelled with an ‘ol’ at the end, searched the internet to see if the domain “Google.com” was available – except he spelled it with an ‘le” instead of “ol”. Larry liked the new word Sean had accidentally come up with, and boom, Google was born. 

The domain name for Google was registered on September 15th, 1997, and the company was incorporated on September 4th, 1998.

Google’s #1 goal is to rank pages on the World Wide Web according to importance using Google metrics to organize all the world’s information and make it universally ACCESSIBLE to those who search for it.

Now that sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo…so for the non-techies, let me say it this way:

Google created an algorithm to help people like you sort quickly through the rapidly growing amount of content being put online.

Google is considered one of the largest technology companies alongside Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, and has grown way beyond search. They specialize in other internet-related products and services we all use day in and day out such as the following: 

  • 1. Google Adwords, a platform that enables the company to earn revenue through pay-per-click advertising.
  • 2. YouTube, a video sharing and social media platform.
  • 3. Google Chrome, a web browser.
  • 4. Google Maps, a service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world. 
  • 5. Google Drive, a cloud-based storage solution that allows you to save files online and ACCESS them anywhere. 

and of course 

  • 6. Gmail, an e-mail service with over 1 billion active users.

I’ll end by sharing one of my favorite things the Google team does with their logo, called doodles. Doodles are the fun, surprising, and oftentimes spontaneous alterations that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, historical events, and the lives of famous people. The word “Google” is always visible in the doodle. Go to “Google.com/doodles” and check out these creative and visually appealing modifications. Over the years, Google has created more than 4,000 doodles for their homepages around the world. 


One last thing: 

This method of finding an answer to just about anything has become so popular that Google is now a verb, meaning to search on the Internet. It was first included in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ on June 15th, 2006.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this:

  • Your product is NOT your brand.
  • Your brand is your Core Value…AND
  • You use your product as the vehicle to drive your Core Value.
  • Google uses their search engine to drive their Core Value of ACCESS.

So the next time someone says to you, ”Just Google it”…remember this:

ACCESS is how Google SCORES

I’m Rich Keller, The CATALYST and see you next time on The CATALYST Effect!

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