Google recently announced a major reorganization that promises to achieve a long list of desired outcomes, from increasing accountability and agility, to pursuing new opportunities and expanding market share. Meet Alphabet – created by Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They are calling this new company a “collection of companies,” with Google being the largest.
Google Masters its ABCs
In practical terms, the change means a shake-up in management and trading. Page will now serve as Alphabet CEO and Brin as president, and Google will be led by new CEO Sundar Pichai (former senior vice president of Android, Chrome, and Apps at Google). Shareholders will also be interested to learn that Google is being replaced with Alphabet for trading purposes. While the stock market will still use the GOOG and GOOGL symbols, all Google shares will equally become Alphabet stock.
What does this mean for Google? It will continue to focus on its core business of search and advertising, supported by YouTube, Android, maps, and apps. According to Page, it is also “making all sorts of new products,” and has recently introduced Google Photos and Google Now, “an intelligent personal assistant.”
In addition to Google, Alphabet will serve as holding company for a host of other initiatives that have been part of Google until now. These include:
- Calico – a research and development company focused on increasing lifespan;
- Fiber – a high-speed internet solution available in certain select cities like Atlanta and San Antonio;
- Google Ventures – venture capital funding for “bold new companies”;
- Google Capital – a growth equity investment fund;
- Google X – a secret lab (seriously!) where Google is innovating advanced technology like auto-driving cars and Google Glass
- Life Sciences – formerly part of the Google X lab and developer of smart contact lenses that can monitor glucose levels in diabetics; and
- Nest – an innovator in home products like smart thermostats and smoke alarms.
These companies will be led by their own CEOs and leadership teams to provide more autonomy and flexibility.
Branding from Z to A
From a brand architecture perspective, this major corporate restructuring poses a challenge. Google is a highly established, world-renowned brand – but it will now be one of at least eight sub-brands under the umbrella of a parent brand.
While Google’s brand will certainly remain strongly recognized despite its acquisition by Alphabet, its marketing team must dually brand it under Alphabet. This presents a unique and most unusual (although not unheard-of) situation where a sub-brand is the preeminent brand – and the parent brand must be created and established in the marketplace. In addition, the other sub-brands must be launched in concert with the parent brand.
This Alphabet brand hierarchy is akin to reciting the alphabet from Z to A, or going backwards. The proven brand leader in the family (Google) is a sub-brand. It has removed the extra baggage of projects not related to its core functions, which have become fellow sub-brands (see bulleted list above). While this provides focus and a “slim down” (as Page referenced in his announcement), it must be communicated via its own sub-brand, prompting the need for a brand refresh.
On top of this, the Alphabet brand must become one that is both recognized and understood. This is vital to the success of all sub-brands and the parent brand itself. While stocks of Google will convert to Alphabet, the fact that the stock symbols will remain Google-related will be a point of confusion for the Alphabet brand. This presents a hurdle that will be difficult to overcome from a marketing perspective: getting Alphabet to be the go-to, tip-of-the-tongue brand name while its stocks are trading as GOOG and GOOGL.
One thing is for certain: the Alphabet brand evolution will prove interesting to watch. As a certified Google AdWords partner, Millennium Integrated Marketing will be observing the subtle –and not-so-subtle changes – that result from Alphabet’s brand formation.
If you’re looking to launch a new brand or explore the impact rebranding may have for your company, contact Millennium today at (877) 873-7445 or give me shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.