A lesson from Google

Why Google is not quite as trusted as it used to be.

In the SmartCompany briefing last Monday it was reported that Google is Australia’s most trusted brand. In fact Google has also outpaced many much more established brands to become the fastest growing brand (in terms of value) in the world with a massive 44% increase in the past 12 months.


So what makes Google special – apart from the fact that every day the vast majority of people online use it to find all kinds of information, which gives it massive name recognition?


From the outset, Google set out to do things differently. You could say it was encoded in the DNA of the organisation – its proclamation “Don’t be evil!”, the design of the search engine, the corporate campus, the way it finds and hires people, and the way its non-profit arm operates. But for me, one of the defining moments for Google was its deal with the Chinese Government to allow the censorship of certain search results in exchange for access to the huge Chinese market.


This was so out of character with everything that Google stood for (from “Don’t be evil” to “Be a little bit evil in one swoop), it was sure to generate a lot of negative press – and it did. What made it defining for me was not that Google did what it did – every organisation makes questionable decisions as they grow – the defining piece was the fact that founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin came out publicly in the months following the decision, and admitted that it was the wrong thing to do and had compromised their principles.


A consistent characteristic of successful, sustainable and “trusted” brands is the ability to stay true to what they stand for across all aspects of their organisation, but just as importantly, the willingness to fess up when they don’t.


Do you try and hide bad decisions and mistakes or do you stand up and admit to them?


See you next week.



Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

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