This article was first published in the October edition of Media Pulse – Omnicom Media Group’s monthly highlights on relevant media insights, intelligence and trends.
Sometimes the original is best… just ask the deflated folks behind “New Coke.” But sometimes even the biggest, most powerful brands need a shakeup to remain relevant, and per usual, Google is paving the way. Between a massive restructuring, a new holding company, and a fresh logo, 2015 has been a historically defining year for Google. Or should we say, “New Google.”
In August, Google did what they do best and surprised the world with an announcement that the eponymous search brand would become part of a larger holding company called Alphabet, Inc. The restructuring will be colossal—brands like Google (search), GoogleX (self-driving cars) and Life-Sciences (diabetic contact lenses) will soon fall under the umbrella of Alphabet, a new parent company created with the goal of more streamlined organization. CEO Larry Page explained, “Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.” Makes sense considering we can’t name any other business that is developing robots and wireless phone networks at the same time.
With all this change will come some serious rebranding, starting with the new Google logo. But Google also created a new domain suffix, .xyz, specifically to suit their new business model. In a nutshell, expect each of the independent companies within Alphabet to soon have their own brand identities, from CEOs to mission statements. There is, of course, a huge difference in restructuring and simply rebranding, but the fruit basket turnover at Google just goes to show that even the biggest, most innovative companies in the world aren’t immune to staleness.
Lately, it seems there has been a spate of well-known brands hitting the drawing board of reinvention. Household names like Hyatt and NASCAR have rolled out new marketing efforts specifically aimed toward a younger generation to hopefully shake their stigma as “old people” brands. The Weather Channel—time-honored bastion of elevator music and Doppler radar—just announced a substantial shift in programming to help the brand return to its roots.
Reinvention is a risk. A sizeable change in branding or business model can alienate core customers and give the impression of instability. Long term an unsuccessful metamorphosis can dilute the brand name itself, and even drive talent away in-house. But in today’s hyper-speed business climate it’s just as important to innovate as it is to be stable. In that sense, isn’t it just as risky for businesses not to shake things up every once in a while? Google sure thinks so.