The key mantra of brand building is positioning. Plant a flag in a product/service category on the consumer’s mind map. Every enterprise has to work hard everyday to tighten its focus in an effort to plant the category ownership flag.
Google became Google because of it’s fantastic positioning. They were THE search engine. However, with every passing minute they seem to be broadening their focus – and bit-by-bit they are chipping away the foundation of their strong brand.
Every passing minute it is becoming harder to answer the question – “What is Google?
- Is it a search engine? Yes
- Is it a news aggregater – Yes
- Is it an advertising platform – Yes
- Is it a platform for software developers to build applications – It seems so, Yes
- Is it a book archive – Yes but I have never found a full book. If I have to read excerpts, I would rather go to Amazon, the experience is much better.
- Is it a comparison shopping service? – Yes, isn’t that what Froogle is? But why does it have the same interface as Google Search?
- Is it a photo sharing portal? – Yes; but I like Flickr better
- Is it a smart phone? – Yes; but from what I have heard it’s nothing like the iPhone
- Is it an OS vendor? – Yes; I heard it is; but not sure how good their OS will turn out to be; the early reviews are mixed.
- Is it a Blogging Service provider? – Yes; but it’s pretty bland. There are better ones out there, like WordPress.
- Is it an email service provide? – Yes; and a damn good one at that!
Google is trying to extend it’s brand beyond advisable limits. It’s becoming unclear what Google is, as it is becoming unclear who Google’s main competitors are. It seems to be fighting wars on too many fronts at the same time – even going to the extent of pissing of old friends like Apple and turning them into adversaries.
Whichever way Google goes, it will definitely make for a very interesting management case study in the years to come.