🧗Brand Stretching | Google and IBM 🐖✈️

This week is all about brand extensions. Google announced a whopper this week, IBM seems to be doing
🧗Brand Stretching | Google and IBM 🐖✈️
By Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani) • Issue #27 • View online
This week is all about brand extensions. Google announced a whopper this week, IBM seems to be doing a Microsoft and GoDaddy quietly shuttered a failed one.
Enjoy!

Extending the brand
Source: attanatta - https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinaronoff/
Source: attanatta - https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinaronoff/
Extending your brand is the idea that you can leverage your brand from one market to enter another market. As one market’s growth slows, it can be critical to enter and succeed in another market to maintain growth. An obvious example of this would be the shift from film to digital in the camera market, a change that Kodak saw but was unsuccessful in surviving. But there are many examples. 
Today Windows operating system growth is slowing thanks to decreasing PC sales but Microsoft has several large growth opportunities that look to offset this.
It is not just slowing markets that force a company to stretch its brand. With so much growth opportunity in technology, much of it interconnected and potentially disruptive to each other, the big technology companies race to enter and dominate them. 
Believe
Source: Zhao - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kodomut/
Source: Zhao - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kodomut/
IBM was once the leader but fell behind with the rise of the PC. They have never completely disappeared though and the success of Watson in the mainstream media has seemingly mesmerized them into making a mistake similar to Microsoft in the 2000s. 
Back then, Microsoft felt that Windows was the most important thing to the company and sought to use the Windows brand on far too many things. Today IBM has done the same with Watson - including it in everything no matter how loose the connection to Watson itself.
The tech behemoths of today are of course Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. But is Google a search company, an advertising company or a technology company? Amazon are clearly not just focused on retail and could be viewed as stretching their brand further than the others. Is Amazon a retailer or a technology company?
Which customers and how they think about a company has a direct impact on how far a company can stretch its brand.
Godaddy shuttered its Amazon Web services (AWS) style server business last week - something that is used by tech savvy developers or IT professionals for much more than just websites. In my view, GoDaddy’s audience is no longer the tech savvy, who - thanks to the increasing external positioning of the business towards SMEs and managing their websites - shifted to other platforms years ago.
So when they launched their AWS-like business, it was misaligned with its current audience. Any move to alter its messaging towards the tech savvy, clashed with its core messaging. A step too far.
Their acquisition strategy seems to agree with this as they have recently acquired Manage WP, WP Curve and Freedom Voice - all of which are aimed at helping users administer websites rather than deeper tech.
Pigs flying overhead
Since the beginning, Google’s website has been sparse. There was none of the noise present on its competitors of the time. Thus it has stayed ever since.
Even the arrival of Facebook, which has changed the way people find some types of content online and bypass Google only resulted in the launch of separate social products. 
This made sense - for email, go to Gmail; video, go to YouTube and social, go to Google Plus. Given the importance of Google Search to the business this seems sensible and I do not believe this stretched the brand too far. The audience fitted, the stretch was whether Google could actually show they understood social. In the end, they were too slow to innovate and offered little above and beyond what already existed elsewhere. Google’s social platforms whilst still there seem to be on life support for now.
So why the focus on the homepage of Google? Well it has taken 20 years, but change might actually be coming. Last week Google announced its Google feed (which has been inside Google Now for four years now) is going to be integrated first into the Google app on Android/iOS and then eventually on to the web itself. 🐖✈️
It is not focused on social (that’s Facebook) or recency (that’s Twitter) but relevance. So if Google thinks you should see a blog post from 8 months ago because of something you just did then that is what you will see.
This is a huge move for Google, albeit they are being cautious with the roll out. Now they are giving you a reason to go to the Google app or even google.com. I do not remember the last time I went to either other than to see a doodle they did - I use Google via the address bar in the browser. Unfortunately, I cannot find any research which shows how many people search via the browser address bar vs going to google.com.
Will people start actively going to either the app or google.com? Will it become the starting point and something you focus on when you open Chrome on both the desktop and mobile? Or will it fail to gain traction and eventually be shuttered?
For Google, this opens a potential new revenue stream. For now the feed has no adverts but if it does gain traction, it may be able to take advertising directly away from Facebook. A double whammy for Google.
On the other hand, another technology company tried to do this and has yet to really succeed. LinkedIn. It was mostly where you went when you wanted to find a job. Alternatively it was your business address book. It was not a destination site to spend time on. LinkedIn has tried and tried to make it so with its business news feed but I don’t see people consistently using it in the same way as Facebook. They keep trying though and with Microsoft acquiring them, who knows. Maybe it will change so dramatically that it will succeed.

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