Google have announced today, on their increasingly boring, Official Google Blog that they have decided the misuse of their trademark is unnacceptable. The huge success in their short life that has seen their name become part of everyday language and been included in the Oxford Dictionary as a verb, is apparently not good for business! From now on they would only like people to use the term ‘Google’ when referring to the trademarked company ‘Google Inc’, or as a verb to search for something on the site google.com.
What does this say about the company? Not really sure. Businesses (and humans alike) can only do so much to promote a certain image, and Google was always keen on being seen as the good guy. However, we must remember that they’re a multi-billion dollar company, they have a board of directors, they are incorporated (which means they have a legal commitment to making the most money possible for their shareholders), they are in a highly dynamic market and they are a major global power – they need to have stategies and rules. Unfortunately this may be the very thing that bursts their bubble. No one is really sure how and when their bubble will burst, but as IBM and Microsoft before them, it is likely to burst. A company that’s success is down to the fact that they are innovative and interesting…and well…fun, can’t suddenly turn into a dictating and controlling powerhouse without losing a serious batch of users.
Interestingly, China recently unblocked wikipedia claiming that the Chinese internet users couldn’t live without it! What does this say about all the companies that succumbed to the government’s censoring policy? Arguably Google (implying the trademarked company Google Inc) is more important for net users than wikipedia, and if they and other big players had held on a few months longer, we could see a situation today where very few sites are censored in the country.
It’s all the more ironic from a company’s who’s motto was / is “don’t be evil”!
The trademark issue is a really interesting one amongst open source projects. The Mozilla Corporation for example protect the branding of Firefox very strongly, they recently had a falling out with Debian (a major Linux distro) because Debian make changes to the version of Firefox which they install automatically.
Mozilla has previously reached an agreement with Debian whereby they could make some modifications, but apparently they feel it went too far so they revoked the agreement and in so doing sparked the IceWeasel (new window) project, which is a clone of Firefox with one or two security features added, but none of the Firefox branding. It’s free in a GNU sense which means you can do anything you like with the code (within certain limits).
It’s a bit like the classic old Hoover, at some point it became a victim of its own success. When you think, I’m going to buy a hoover, it’s no longer associated with the company Hoover Inc.
Very good points bro. I guess more studies of how this type of success in brand awareness affects a company/product. There are numerous examples that are around today, and a lot of them are market leaders – iPod, Google and podcast are some good examples, however Apple is also on the case of working out how to protect its copyright.
It’s really an interesting point and would be a great one to look into – how success affects your brand by becoming too popular!