Tuesday 17 October 2017

The A to Z of new Google Alphabet

Cera Healy
Cera Healy

Google's announcement that its corporate arm is to be known as Alphabet from now on caused quite a stir. Though seemingly superficial, brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance believes it could have major financial implications. Google is rated as the world's third most highly brand with a value of almost $77bn - trailing Apple on $128bn and Samsung on $82bn.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh claims that in the short term Google's brand value will drop a little as revenues from some of its smaller businesses are rebranded to Alphabet, or, as is more likely, given new identities.

But Haigh says these businesses only account for a small slice of Google's overall revenues, so the impact may be slight.

The more interesting question is what the repercussions might have on Google's image in the long run. Google Fiber and Google X suggest to consumers the internet giant is where it's at in terms of new technologies, its relevancy and the boasts that it's more than just a search engine.

But remove Google's branding and it reduces their halo effect. Apple's single brand approach has served it well, creating better recognition of services and interlinking marketing messages.

Google seems to have decided that something closer to a 'house of brands' approach might be a better fit. For instance, YouTube and Android are major parts of the behemoth not bearing the Google name.

Haigh says Alphabet's arrival suggests the strategy will be extended. The rationale is based on managerial and legal concerns, rather than branding. Brand Finance believes the latest move is a step in the right direction for corporate management, allowing the various Google brands to work towards individual goals.

From a legal point of view, Google is attracting some negative attention, either due to a lack of transparency, invasion of privacy or anti-trust concerns. However, under Alphabet, there's every chance more details on Google's revenue streams will be made public, which should help in keeping shareholders happy and appease regulators.

The move to Alphabet paves the way for more subdivision within the group to allay anti-trust fears. It also means other legal issues can be contained within particular parts of the business rather than tarnishing the entire set-up. Branding is affected too.

If one part of Alphabet is dragged through the mud, the risk of contagion is less if it operates under a different brand name. Google has often been hoisted by its own petard over the 'do no evil' slogan, but its critics won't be able to do the same to Alphabet or its non-Google brands. Good news for Google Ireland's country manager for large customer sales, Cera Healy, main picture.

* Bank of Ireland's new TV ads with Rachel and Steve, above right, have the Marmite factor - you either love 'em or hate 'em. The ads follow on from when Rachel moves in with Steve. The other housemates have gone, leaving them with the run of the house. Now 'as one', the couple even finish one another's sentences as they greet their new next door neighbour. The creative team at Cawley Nea\TBWA was Adam Crane, Niall McDonnell and Martin Cowman.

* As part of this year's Culture Night on Friday, September 18, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) will for the third year in a row present some of the work it funds.

Visitors to the BAI building in Dublin's Warrington Place will be able to see and listen to TV, film and radio projects free of charge.

The mobile, solar-powered Sol Cinema will show TV and films funded by the BAI through its Sound & Vision scheme. A 'listening lounge' will allow people to tune in to radio shows. This year's Culture Night theme is 'Revolves Around You' and participants are urged to share their experiences using the #LOVECulture, #CultureNight and #CN2015 hashtags. The PPI Radio Awards Hall of Fame 2015 nominees will be announced on Culture Night. The accolade goes to people deemed to have made a major contribution to radio in Ireland. Recipients are nominated by stations across the country and nominees can be well known voices or those who work behind the scenes.

Previous inductees include impressionist Mario Rosenstock, the late Today FM deejay Tony Fenton and Liveline host Joe Duffy, pictured below.

* With thoughts of autumn soon turning to winter, Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) will next week roll out a campaign to push its new Hive product. Hive allows consumers to control their heating and hot water with the thermostat control linked to their wi-fi. BGE's Irene Gowing claims it's the first time in Ireland a smart phone has been used for domestic heating control. Gowing says the idea is taken from an overseas innovations programme called Connected Homes, which BGE has monitored. Customers pay a one-off fee of €299 and Hive is installed within half an hour. Publicis created the ads with media by Mindshare.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: cullen@marketing.ie

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