Google sushi anyone?

September 7, 2005

Google is a branding success story. A small company taking on the well established, but overstretched, Internet giant, Yahoo! and winning. We all love Google. The name alone is branding genius. Short, simple, unique, different.

But today, rich and powerful Google is going backwards on the food chain. Google was once a small nimble fish that became an killer whale, and now looks more like an octopus. Google has its tentacles in way too many divergent businesses.

While Google has not overly publicized its grandiose dreams, the word on the street is that Google is contemplating everything from Wi-Fi Internet access and mobile devices to operating systems and e-commerce. Of course, we already know about the gmail, froogle and mapping sites. So it is clear, Google everything is the strategy.

The problem is that the octopus model for running a business is all wrong. Building a strong base and then stretching out your tentacles in all directions gets your brand in trouble. It confuses the consumer as to what your brand stands for. It confuses the company as it what it stands for. It confuses management as to who the enemy is. It confuses R&D as to what direction to go. It confuses the advertising agency as to what the message is. It confuses the public relations agency as to what the buzz is.

The last giant octopus, Microsoft is a case in point. While it dominates in personal computer operating systems, they have not been able to make money outside of that. They have sold millions of Xboxes but have not been profitable. Money is a loser compared to Intuit’s products. And don’t get me started on Microsoft’s hopes for a converged world, they have poured hundreds of millions into interactive television, media center television, tablet computers and other losers.

I am very concerned for the Google brand and Google stock holders. No brand can stand for everything and dominate every market. Today, Google is a great search engine. Tomorrow, Google might be octopus sushi for another new brand.