Eight years ago Google talked about trying to do business without being evil. It was refreshing and ground-breaking in a world of excess greed. If only the Wall Street Bankers had done the same thing, maybe we wouldn’t be in this financial crisis. Yet, people criticize Google for saying they aren’t evil because of their tough way of doing business. Yes, Google has a near monopoly, but they have earned that position. Yes, they are agressive in the market and wield power over the market they compete in. I’d hate to be one of their competitors–just ask Yahoo and MSN. But don’t mix evil up with good ole smart capitalism and a high regard for empowering their beloved brand.
Recently the Larry Page, the CEO of Google took it even further towards being a beloved brand. In an open letter, he stated:
“We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love. We recognise this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind.”
If you want to find the ways that Google has achieved love from their consumers, look in the list of “The Ten Things We Know to be True” that Google created very early on in their life. Any great brand could learn from that list–and very few brands live by these rules. In that list, Google proclamed they would “Focus on the user and all else will follow”. I wish every brand took such a consumer centric view, instead of just a product centric view. I always think that the consumer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and satisfying that consumer’s selfishness will turn you from just a usual sellling brand to a connected brand that consumers can not live without. Google also said: It’s best to do one thing really, really well. So many brands are trying to be all things to all people, that they end up diluting the meaning of their brand and the promise that leads their effort. A brand is a promise that you must be able to keep. Trying to do everything will ineviatably mean failure in breaking that promise. A beloved brand knows who their consumer is, and equally who is not their consumer. I hope Google stays true to this idea. Arguably Google has had a few little wiggles from the search focus, and wonder where they go with Google+. Wiggles are OK, diversions are not. And the other thing Google said was: Great just isn’t good enough. Brand Leaders play it too safe too often and settle for OK. They don’t take any chances–they focus just on the logic and mind of the consumer. They fear trying to be emotional, because it feels uncertain. They end up boring and liked but they never reach the loved stage. Google on the hand states that Great is the starting point to push yourself beyond:
We see being great at something as a starting point, not an endpoint. We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected. Through innovation and iteration, we aim to take things that work well and improve upon them in unexpected ways.
Ironically, Google has produced one TV ad, and it’s one of the best in the last decade. It’s very emotion and showcases the power that Google has in our lives.
Instead of criticizing Google for stating that they want to be loved, I’d like to see all Brand Leaders push themselves to be loved. Everything should start and end with the Consumer in mind. Beloved Brands intimately know their consumer and become a part of their life. With most brands, Consumers move along a “LOVE CURVE” going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It, and then they’ll make their Beloved Brand into A Brand For Life. The Love Consumers have for a Brand becomes a Source of Power, helping to change the dynamic the brand can have with suppliers, customers, competitors and even with the consumers themselves. There’s nothing wrong or evil with using that power to the advantage of the brand.
When it comes to execution, brand leaders play it far too safe. Too many times, they fail to do work that is good or different. They stick to the usual and sameness–resulting in boring work that fails to stand out. The zone you should be pushing for is Good But Different: It might not always test well, as it is beyond the consumer’s thinking. Consumers don’t have the imagination to always know what they want. They know their problems, just not the solutions. But once consumers start to see how the differences meets their needs, they’ll start to buy. It might feel like the highest risk but it also is the highest long-term sustainability and potential to be loved.
My challenge to you is to push yourself and your brand to find love by putting all your passion into the brand work you do. If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to fall in love with your brand?