Does Google’s Brand Dominance Risk Dilution through Growth?

I don’t need to explain what Google is, right? It’s simply the best search engine on the planet. Everyone agrees on that. Search is still what we think of when we hear “Google it”—a simple, clutter-free page that gets right to the point for doing a search online. Google has such a strong brand here that, they own this category. Is anyone using Bing these days? Or Ya-who?

Yet Google increasingly does so much else, its business model risks getting messy. Who are they in the minds of their huge audience? Doing everything is never an asset for brand positioning.

When I searched Google products on Wikipedia I stopped counting at 50, with a long way to go. (Here is the list if you’re curious. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products)

Consider this dizzying array of products:
Android – smart phone operating system
Google SketchUp – a 3D illustration software
YouTube
Google Phone or Google Talk
Google TV
Google + social media site
Google music – set to launch this year
Google Deals- coming soon because Groupon turned down their offer.
Blogger – which will soon change to Google blogs
Picasa – photo organization and editing application
Jaiku – Twitter knockoff
Google Chrome – web browser

Do any of these sound like Google Search?

Obviously, Google still has a very strong brand—no question there—but the path they are heading in may dilute it, making them more like Microsoft. Could they become a big tech giant with its hand in so many places and still be great at them all? Case in point, Google T.V. is a major flop, and Google Plus is likely to follow.

So far Google’s largely sticking to technology and many of their new products are logical brand extensions. That’s good. They at least didn’t open a bakery or start selling insurance. Companies strive to have people know who they are, know what they do and then understand that they do it well. That is powerful. Google is absolutely the best with search, but as they grow they must be careful not to water down their brand equity. It’s a tough balance, growing steadily while staying true to initial brand strength.

So what is Google today…and what will it mean to us in a year or two?

Let’s hope that as they attempt to buy companies like Groupon, Google asks themselves not just how does this move affect our bottom line, but how does it affect our top-of-mind brand. Otherwise, the next time someone says Google it, you might have to ask, Do you want me to call you? Channel surf my T.V? Write a blog post? Make a 3D model? Or… Google it how?

We always love hearing your comments, so keep them coming. Hope you had a fun summer!

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