by Tatiana Scopelleti Sicotte
Google was created in 1998 and ever since has become the most popular search engine in the world. Its success was initially driven by two aspects of its core brand proposition: superior search results and "you can trust us with your private information."
Google's ascent to one of the top brands in the world is truly impressive. Google was a very late entrant into a crowded search space. Some well-financed companies had gianormous leads on Google including Lycos, AltaVista, Magellan, WebCrawler, InfoSeek, Excite and HotBot. Yet Google triumphed. How did it do that? In a space where switching costs are relatively low, Google decided to build a better search product and helped alleviate privacy concerns with its messaging. And, it did this by giving the brand some personality: Google’s fun and unique games and interface is also extremely likeable.
The company's early search success in delivering better results was based on an algorithm that followed the academic citation model. The best sites will have more, better quality, high traffic sites linking to it. Today it seems obvious, but Google's competitors at the time were using meta-tags as a primary driver of search results. Today, Google's search algorithm is a lot more complicated (and ever changing!) but the idea behind it is still the same. Trying to find out the exact algorithm is a big secret, although some experts argue there are more than 200 factors that Google considers.
So now, instead of saying that you are going to search something on the Internet, we use the term “Google it” instead. Does this take away from Google’s brand equity, as the brand name is used synonymously with its function? The answer to that is no. Every time Google is mentioned, it keeps the brand top of mind - which is great. Plus, "Googling it" implies the brand is the guardian of information and gateway to answers - things that reinforce the brand's search core value proposition. In short, "Googling" is good for Google's brand awareness and image.
So why then, does Google reprimand its employees for using the brand name as a verb? The same reason why Kleenex, Xerox and Zamboni do. Google is a trade name. If the term Google becomes a common everyday word, then any company can use it - and the name is no longer legally protectable. That my friends, would destroy the favorable, unique value propositions of our favorite search brand- Google.