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Essay: Uncovering Branding: A Case Study of Google

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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1.   Introduction

In the past, branding is only focused on the visual differentiation such as logo, symbol and package; however, today’s brand’s concept is broadened by including one’s vision, culture as well as user experience. Modern people do not evaluate each commodity by specific features. Instead, they choose their purchase emotionally whether a brand is reliable or a product is worth to pay. Today, brand reputation is a significant element for a successful business.

Despite the importance of brand, only few companies attain prestigious fame and build a close relationship with backers. Almost Business to Customer (B2C) products have the logos, but people do not recognize all brands are valuable. Occasionally, companies spend tremendous budgets of branding and marketing, but the public opinions could be below expectations. Why are not corporate’s endeavors connected with competent outcomes? Actually, branding, we have generally known, is limited although most have already realized that the brand is not only a logo but also all kinds of experiences.

This essay argues that external branding for customer communication is essential, but also internal aspects should not be neglected in branding for a prosperous brand. The objective of this research is to explore how branding influences company’s core value by conducting a case study of Google, one of the successful brands in the world. From this research, the essay suggests the brand’s value to formulate corporate unique culture and inspire its soul as well as positive customer experiences.

2.   Backgrounds: Google’s Identity as the most successful conglomerate

Google, a global tech company from search engine to hardware, has developed and expanded its business rapidly. Google has delivered their distinctive identity to stakeholders and customers clearly and consistently. Most people know Google brand, and in Europe, Google search dominates over 90% market share (Rosoff, 2014). Interbrand, one of prestigious world brand consultancy reported that Google’s 2016 brand value was $133,252 million, the world’s second powerful brand.

Google is famous for its extraordinarily humorous communication and ambition of a state of the art technology. Google, misspelling of the word ‘googol’, was founded in 1998 by two PhD students of Stanford University in California, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In 2004, Google went public, and with Initial Public Offering (IPO) they announced the future plan to move on a multinational conglomerate. In 2015, Google gains the parent company, Alphabet Inc. by corporate restructuring. Google’s challenge and history are still continuing by showing their commitments to innovation.

3.   Google’s Core value

A.   Vision

Google’s ambitious vision plays a key role in their success by suggesting the standard they should achieve. Google’s vision statement is not indicated officially on the website now, but, it is known that Google vision statement is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click”; therefore, their mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Thompson, 2017). The vision, technologies for everyone, is shown by sub-brands consistently. For example, Google VR’s slogan, “Virtual reality for everyone. We’re on a mission to bring amazing experience to the world.”, corresponds with Google’s belief.

The firm’s vision is important because it explains what a company does and also it allows to define its own services and roles differing from others. According to Thompson’s article (2017), “Google’s mission statement and vision statement leads to its current position as one of the most valuable brands in the world.” Their passion of vision enables Google to achieve the rapid innovation and success.

Google’s challenging vision is the essential Google value to determinate how to work and why Google dedicates to their duties. Since Google’s vision is communicated consistently, most people recognize easily Google brand and its business.

B.  Product

Google’s commitments, which are mostly free, are proven by numerous and experimental products focused on modern technologies and developed efficient usability. Fleischer(2006) points out that Google realizes the importance of its brand by enhancing and preserving the brand. Especially, Google’s products for developer are various as much as end users’, and also basically most products are an open-source tool for developers.

Google’s experimental products are organized by users’ individual needs, not followed by conventional ways according to chronological order or product lines. These are obviously user-centered approaches because people use numerous products according to their specific needs. Google classifies their services on the webpage with the distinctive two ways. The first aspect is the objectives; Google encourage to imagine why each service will be needed in specific situations: ‘Get answers’, ‘Watch, listen, and play’, ‘Stay connected across screens’, ‘Work smarter’, or ‘Grow your business’. The other categorized standard is users: for All, for business and for a developer.

Every product could not guarantee its success all the time despite Google’s dedication (Boulton, 2011). However, Google has strived continuously to create more convenient and useful service for everyone.

C.  Technology

Google’s Technologies are the results of employee’s belief and passion. Google always motivates developers and challenges an innovative technology. The representative secretive organization is ‘X, the moonshot factory’ since 2010. The employees don’t work for the short-term benefit; instead, they are not afraid of the failure, they are only focused on the complete solution. Moonshot Factory is not terrified with their failure but instead, they spend most time finding their fault for the innovation (Teller, 2016).

Also, Google is known for a variety of surprising and witty functions and messages called ‘Easter Egg’. These are not functional and hidden; these are for users to be fun unexpectedly. It is a kind of communication between the developers and users, and it is also related to Goggle’s company culture, “Pride itself on being a playful company”. Moreover, it is helpful to enhance the brand loyalty in the case of early adopters, since they get an emotional experience to communicate with developers building a real relationship.

4.   Googles' Branding for Core Value

Most companies have their vision, products and core technologies; however, only few brands are recognized and considered by customers. This is the power of branding. Branding is not only appearance elements but also includes internal aspect. This section describes as three internal and external parts of branding in order to how Google builds their brand and how each branding relates to its core values.

A.   Visual Identity

Google’s Visual Identity in Branding is helpful for people to recognize its products and technologies Google has. Visual Identity in branding means all visible elements to communicate by including name, logo, symbol, colors, font type(typography) or other symbolic figures (van den Bosch et al., 2016). Visual Identity is the most prominent aspect of a corporation since it differentiates from other products and builds the organisation’s reputation (Baker & Balmer, 1997; Abratt & Kleyn, 2016)

Google’s logo is distinctive with cheerful vivid colours; moreover, Google shows their humorous characteristic by changing their logo style over 2,000 types around the world, named ‘Doodle’, created by doodlers, illustrators and engineers. According to Google’s website, they started to design Doodle ‘to celebrate holidays, events, achievements and people since 1998′. Google’s vivid four colours reflect their energetic and innovative personality. Moreover, Doodle is more active visual communication to show Google’s identity and value. Users can easily realize what Google does by noticing a new witty logo on Google search page.

Visual images are very powerful to communicate effectively as well as recognize a brand intuitively. In branding, Visual Identity System is not everything (Burmann & Zeplin, 2005; Burmann et al., 2009); even it could be replaceable. However, Visual Identity System means everything visible. A brand’s visual design means the first point that customers and the brand meet, and people could estimate the product’s quality, brand image and personality. Moreover, since people perceive and memorize each product with the distinctive visual cue such as a symbol and colors, Visual Identity System is emphasized consistently as a powerful and emotional communication element (van Grinsven, B., 2016).

B.   Behaviour Identity

Google can create innovative products to achieve the vision and to meet customers’ expectation by internal brand management called Behaviour Identity. In branding, invisible aspects are more important than visual elements in order to be a competitive brand to survive over the decades. Burmann and Zeplin(2005) emphasizes that “to achieve a strong brand identity the external, market-oriented brand management needs to be complemented by an institutionalised internal brand management.” It means that motivated internal corporate behaviours are helpful to build a powerful identity. Attractive and consistent employees behaviours are caused by company culture from internal branding management.

Googleplex, Google campus in California, is commonly called dream √workplace. Googleplex is famous for their creative and innovative work environments. Google’s workplace looks like a playground; however, the employees are highly motivated and confident followed by its vision. They seem not to be afraid of their failure and do not hesitate to challenge a risk because the work atmosphere and corporate culture are bold and unlimited. Due to a series of efforts of Google to enhance behavior identity, employees could feel that they are different and work creatively to make a change. These behaviours link Google’s vision and it makes positive circle to develop consistently.

C.  Mind Identity

Google shows its vision and belief through branding activates as Mind Identity. Mind Identity, clarification of corporate’s vision, philosophy and role, is the most core department to manage in branding. Balmer & Soenen (1999) explained the Corporate Identity by dividing three parts: Mind, Soul(Culture) and Voice(Symbolism). Mind Identity indicates corporate’s vision and philosophy and ultimately creates a crucial difference from other products, services and companies I argue that Mind Identity is positioned before Behaviour Identity and Visual Identity in branding. Brand reputation comes from conscious and unconscious considerations and beliefs. Therefore, without mind identity, it is difficult to look forward to the consistent and differentiated brand.

Google’s effort to contribute to our community and environment is an example. They regularly provide free developer programs all over the world, and implement meaningful project for global environment to share and spread their vision: technologies for everyone.

To build the Mind Identity needs much time and sincere commitments. Activities for Mind Identity are not related to the product and profits directly. However, it is useful to build invisible brand value compared to other companies. This is the power to possible that Google become the second worldwide brand.

Consumers realize the brand because of Visual Identity, and employees can create the appropriate product and service to fit company’s vision due to behaviour identity. At last, consumers and employees can empathies corporate vision because of mind identity.

5.   Conclusion

As examined above, Google has built their brand images successfully by considering both internal and external aspects: Mind Identity for vision, Behaviour Identity for culture and Visual Identity for communications. The brand is visible while branding includes invisible elements, which is more unconscious but √more important part. In the early 2000s, the interest in brand exploded, but ironically, No-brand movement aroused at the same time, which was the resistance of high brand costs amongst the company and consumers. However, no-brand such as MUJI is also a brand because it adheres their core value and pursues their unique identity. This reflects the decision ways how to communicate, produce and work. The reason why many brands are not successful despite their efforts is because they are limiting the range of branding or losing their consistency. Through the Google’s case, we could learn the importance of entire branding not only focused on appearances, and it is not different from other admirable brand’s essential property.

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