Search engine giant, Google has dominated newspapers around the world this week with it’s striking revelation that it has created a new parent holding company – Alphabet. As a well established brand, Google will continue to use it’s world renowned name for it’s search and other search related subsidiaries. Speculators suggest the reasoning behind this sudden restructuring is to minimise risk to each individual company that will housed under the Alphabet umbrella. For many years the worlds most famous search engine has been investing in new ventures and R&D, drone development, medical care and automated car transport.
So why is all this relevant to brand management, marketing and business development? CEO and co-founder Larry page, has made a bold move in choosing an unusual name, and indeed distinct domain name for the new parent company – alphabet.xyz. This curious choice of domain extension .xyz has left many confused and bewildered. Following convention, surely alphabet.com would have been a safer, more preferred choice. New theories are emerging on this bizarre and mysterious decision.
Speculators suggest Google is revolutionising the nature of branding. Stepping away from traditional modes of in-your-face branding where logos, trademarks and all associated brand imagery would be plastered over goods, unmissable to the eye, new trends amongst some of the worlds leading brands suggest a change in previous practice. A paper recently released, ‘The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption’ by professors Belk, Eckhardt and Wilson illustrates a stark change in the relationship between consumer and branded products. In contrast to the blatant branding of the 1980’s and 1990’s where consumers wanted to overtly show-off high end luxury goods as a symbol of status and accomplishment, new trends have been developing in todays market.
Emerging consumer trends suggest a preference for unobtrusively and subtly marked products. Luxury brands are aware of this behavioural change in todays consumer. Essentially, less is more. Apple’s iconic logo is instantly recognisable even without it’s name. It’s products are characterised by simplicity and sharpness of design. Tiffany has stripped it’s brand right down to a simple “T”.
Google are somewhat contributing to this trend. They could choose any number of new gTLD’s .global, .tech, .business or alternatively purchased alphabet.com from BMW. It’s not as if capital is lacking. Instead they have opted for a different and somewhat vague, understated extension. Since the news exploded a few days ago, the .xyz registry has seen an exponential rise in domain registrations. Fears are spreading that Alphabet’s strategic move may encourage and increase in cyber-squatting and phishing.
Whatever the outcome of this unexpected branding endeavour, the move marks a significant step away from the dominance of the dot.com days. The jury is out on the success of the new gTLD rollout initiated by ICANN since the end of 2013. Nonetheless, Google’s bold move somewhat endorses the positive potentiality of new gTLD’s in future brand management, marketing and business development.
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