San Francisco at sunset
San Francisco at sunset

Not really.

This may be off topic, but is Google ever off topic?  And besides, is anything more “branding” than Google?  And branding is a topic after all.

We used to think Google couldn’t ever even be “off,” right?  Look what I wrote a little more than two years ago, in early February 2010:

Look, the free market does great things for us.  It has given us, via Google and Facebook and all sorts of other technology, awesome powers unimaginable only a few years ago.

But it doesn’t protect certain things that, once lost, are hardly ever regained.  Two of those things stand at the gateway of the private and the social:  The twins, privacy and reputation.  We now know for a certainty that the market, and the law, are simplynot going to do a damned thing to protect the latter.   If we’re deprived of privacy, too, what is left of us?

[I]t’s not rape.  It’s seduction.  Either way, however, what’s lost cannnot be retrieved.

There ought to be a law.  And time has come today.

That was dumb.   Read this:

Google Buzz is single-handedly the biggest mistake the search engine giant has ever made, and it’s a mistake that’s going to cost them dearly, both in terms of consumer confidence and in terms of actual money.

You see, Google Buzz is already complete failure, and was so almost before it even had a chance to get off the ground. I’ll tell you why.

First off – nobody’s using it.

Friends, that post was written two weeks later than the one from the old me that I quoted — February 26, 2010!  Now it may have been prescient, but even if I’d seen it then, could you blame me for not paying too much attention to someone pontificating about social media whose name doesn’t appear anywhere on a blog post?

Well, whoever he or she is, he or she was right.  By December PC World had named Google Buzz on of the 20 biggest tech failures of 2010.

So then, Google Plus.  Is Google Plus to Google Buzz as Windows 7 is to Windows Vista?

Not even.  Yep, there were the early naysayers, this from Beverly — another person with no name writing about branding — at a blog called Brand-Yourself:

Personally, I don’t think that Google Plus is going to take off the way they hope it will.  For Google’s sake (and for their reputation with social applications’ sake) I hope that I’m wrong but, let’s face it, history tends to repeat itself.

Most people and businesses are already satiated with Facebook and Twitter; how are they going to fit another big social network into the mix?  And since I definitely don’t see Google Plus replacing one of them, my prognosis is grim for this new social network… and I don’t think even House could save it.

Forbes, about six weeks ago (April 16, 2012):  Six Months Later, Google Plus Still Doesn’t Add Up.  It does to Ford, evidently; that’s not too compelling.

I never use it.  My admittedly sleepy Google Plus profile may have some “effect” on my “personal branding” and the way I get blog traffic, or something.  I don’t know what, or how.

That doesn’t mean Google doesn’t know too much about us, or should be regulated or “broken up,” or whatever.  But it does remind us that even ubiquity and market domination don’t always mean … much of anything, in the long run.

Just ask Ford:

The entertainment industry is only the latest in which the idea of vertical integration failed to live up to its promise. Consider the experiences of the auto industry. Henry Ford was a huge believer in the concept. His River Rouge plant, which once built the Model A, had its own electricity plant and its own mill for turning iron ore into steel; the vast majority of the components that went into its cars were made on-site. Over time, however, this soup-to-nuts strategy came to be seen as inefficient: companies could obtain better prices and more flexibility by dealing with a competing band of outside suppliers. Over time, once-vertically-integrated companies like Ford and General Motors have spun off their internal supply division to form standalone companies, in an attempt to try to create the flexible, leaner supply chains created by Honda and Toyota.

Well, Slate magazine asked if Google “peaked” … in 2005.  It hadn’t.  People will keep asking, though — maybe through who-knows how many more peaks.

But, hey… remember Facebook and all that?

If branding were easy, it would be a science.

UPDATE: Moving the chairs around?



By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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