I had to chuckle when I read Google’s belly-aching about Microsoft’s proposal to buy Yahoo a couple of weeks ago. According to Google’s legal counsel, the bid raised “troubling questions.”  What’s interesting here is not the merit of Google’s arguments – or the irony that since they initially aired their concerns they’ve hinted they may jump into the process as a white knight – but the dissonance of their stance with their brand. Is this not the company that proudly proclaimed they would do no harm – certainly one of the most bold and original corporate mantras in history. At first Google acted as though their mission – and brand positioning – was more than a paper tiger. I’ll admit it, I applied for a couple of jobs there and was keen to join such an innovative and progressive company. And they have provided users with a huge array of free tools and programs. But in the past year or so, the brand veneer is becoming seriously scuffed. First they made a dubious deal with the Chinese government which went against the core principles of free speech. As they’ve grown bigger and more dominant, they’ve increasingly acted more like the cocky millionaire producer rather than the scruffy tech nerd.  And now, in the latest twist…the giant complains when their main rival (with its own famous hubris) takes steps to contest their domination in the field of online advertising. As far as I’m concerned, this puts the nail in the coffin of the old Google. I still love their attitude and their products, but I no longer consider them special or cool. In fact, they may even be a bully – going from do no harm to take no prisoners. Hardly the inherent message in their brand positioning.

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