Google has been building out its brand platform by adding one strategic plank after another. The latest deals with Web trust and security.
Building trust for the Google brand
Google understands that because a large part of its brand is centered on the Web and Web applications, its long-term success depends on a Web that is generally safe, and trustworthy. A Web that’s rife with deceptions and insecurities could seriously undermine the Google brand, and Google’s business.
Of course, on the wide-open Web there’s only so much oversight that Google—or any company—can manage. But every bit it can accomplish adds to its brand integrity, and to its long-term brand equity. When you and I feel “safe” within the Google ambiance, the Google brand is working.
The new platform plank: security
This week Google introduced its Online Security Blog to solicit discussion and feedback on its latest steps in helping users protect themselves online. This is a vital plank in the Google brand platform. Google has to demonstrate some control over various Web threats if it expects businesses and individuals to leave the (relative) security of their desktops and embrace online Google Apps, one of Google’s main challenges to Microsoft. In the first blog entry Google reveals some of its initiatives against malware sites that can steal sensitive information from a user’s computer. Google already identifies possible malware sites in its search results.
Google’s security initiative is a way of building the Google brand by delivering value customers can use. That’s an approach I call value-based brands. It’s the real deal all the way through. Zero brand fluff.
I’d also guess that somewhere deep inside the Googleplex there’s a whiteboard with Google’s vision of a trusted Web. That vision would also be a vision of the Google brand, with the security plank a key part of it.
Building trust for Google’s AdSense
In a related move, Google is taking steps to clean up the “proxy” websites designed to game Google’s AdSense program. These sites are typically made up entirely of AdSense ads and no original content. While such sites can make money for their originators, and for Google’s AdSense program itself, they seriously clutter search results and offer a negative user experience. As Scott Karp notes, this is an example of Google giving up some “easy money” in favor of measures that can return more strategic AdSense revenue from a “healthier” and more quality-oriented Web.
Raising the brand bar
The Web is a big place. When you operate on the scale of Google, your brand platform will need lots of planks. Google’s latest actions signify that it’s scaling up its brand to support a very large business, with no shortage of platform components. It’s certainly raising the brand bar for Microsoft and Yahoo.