Google's brand soars, but I don't recall them advertising

Next Story

Videooo: Final Fantasy VII on NES

Is Google really the “highest regarded brand in the UK” as the FT writes? Apparently it’s overtaken the BBC, Microsoft and British Airways to become the most highly regarded business brand.

“It’s times like this that investment in building engagement, trust and loyalty with a customer base really gets the successful businesses through difficulties caused by wider economic problems,” says Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the Superbrands council. Superbrands warns sternly against cutting ad budgets to keep your brand going. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising showing that British companies had made their deepest cuts to advertising budgets for almost two years in the last three months of 2007. The table is compiled by surveying 1,500 professionals using a list of 1,300 brands.

I have two points to make.


This is whole ‘Superbrands’ way of thinking assumes Google ended up investing more in its ad budget than its product. As if Google spends a cent on marketing. Perhaps if British businesses spent more on their intrinsic offering than marketing they might be perceived better, and lauded online. Ever think about that?

Double Baloney:

The entire media industry knows – but never tells because they all want to be in the list – that Superbrands compiles its list then goes to the companies named and asks them if they want to pay to be in the list. If the firm says no, they don’t make the list. So given that a firm with a perfectly good brand might have been left out because they weren’t bothered about paying, the list is therefore meaningless. Superbrands business model only continues because the concept of ‘brand’ is so subjective in the first place.

  • Alberto Nardelli

    According to Millward Brown’s Brandz report Google is the world’s most powerful brand: – this may seem obvious, but as you rightly point out – all the other brands in the list have taken many decades to build their name, investing up to 10% of their yearly revenue in branding, while Google’s expenditure is close to 0.

  • Nick Wright

    As a businessman in a previous life, nothing vexed me more than having to spend money on marketing unless I absolutely had to.
    In my next life, nothing would give me greater pleasure than never having to spend money on marketing.
    Google have become a world super brand by providing a unique and revolutionary product that provides a solution to millions of people every day in the form of seach and advertising- and all in the matter of just a few years.
    Any top business leader would give his/ her arm to have such worldwide recognition.
    share your life, treasure the privacy

  • Will Callaghan

    “Perhaps if British businesses spent more on their intrinsic offering than marketing they might be perceived better, and lauded online. Ever think about that?”

    With you 100% Mike!

  • Peter Robinett

    I can’t speak for the UK but Google is promoting AdWords heavily (billboards, full page newspaper ads) in the Netherlands. So they do spend something on marketing… =)

  • Kevin May

    well said, Mike!

    every now and again journalists used to moan about the Superbrands ‘survey’, especially when the ridiculous CoolBrands spin-off was launched, but always seemed reluctant to expose it…

    i wonder why…?!?

  • Martin Porcheron

    I’ve seen a fair bit of of Google marketing in the UK, albeit mostly in magazines. Having said that, don’t forget that marketing extends past advertising, but brand placement on other products, eg. Google Maps on iPhone, Google’s numerous deals with phone manufacturers, Dell. They all cost money.

  • Leif Kendall

    That’s shocking that you have to pay for inclusion in the Superbrands report. Knowing that changes the value of it.

    It reminds me slightly of Adele (the singer) who after winning a Brit award was asked “have you got over the shock yet?” replied, “No I found out a month ago!”.

    I’ve paraphrased slightly but the point is Adele revealed the mechanisms of the awards – all that mock surprise for scripted awards!

    • Lemoin

      Hi Mike – You have got it wrong. The Top 500 don’t pay anything. Only the brands that wish to feature in the coffee table book have to pay. What did you think – Paper grows on trees?


  • Scott

    Are you jealous or something? Quite an O.T.T. post IMHO.

  • I Am Not Posting To Spam My Blog

    If Google doesn’t spend a cent on marketing and Superbrands demand payment for inclusion in the list, then Google wouldn’t have paid Superbrands and they wouldn’t have appeared in the list, let alone top. Which is it?

  • Agreement with the last comment

    I was going to post saying the same as the last comment. Did Google pay to be included on the Superbrands list, or not? The original posting doesn’t make sense.

  • Mike Butcher

    What happens is that SuperBrands keeps the big names in the report – who go in for free – so it can press release it. It’s the ‘long tail’ of other firms who pay to go in.

    • Lemoin

      Mike – This is utter rubbish! Are you a disgruntled ex employee or something? I have done some design work for Superbrands and I know that the brands in the list do not pay anything. Its only if they want to be featured in the programme.


  • Mike Butcher

    And BTW, Kevin May, former dep ed of Media Week, confirms the whole superbrands modus operandi:

  • I Am Not Posting To Spam My Blog

    Thanks Mike, makes sense.

    The Financial Times seems to be one of the few mainstream (non advertising trade) papers covering this. Which leads us to believe that it’s mainly because they’re included in the list. Rather transparently self-serving.

  • Ian Tester

    Of course Google do spend an awful lot of money on PR ;-)

    But yes, overall they’ve built great word of mouth through having a superior product and that’s the way for any smart company to maximise marketing spend. If you have an indifferent product, no amount of media spend is going to help it (“polishing the tu*d” as we marketers call it).

    Google is beginning to slip though – iGoogle is slooooooow and buggy and isn’t going to be my start page much longer…

  • Ian Delaney

    The press release was fairly transparent about the crookedness of this survey. It said they do a poll of 1500 people, and then a panel changes the results to the ones they want.

    I’m not sure it was a great idea for them to disclose that.

  • Ex Media Worker

    This is yet another example of how the media industry is disappearing up its own arse. Superbrands can fuck right off.

    • Lemoin

      I can see why you are an ex media worker. What do you do now, drive a London cab? Oh no, I forgot, they dont even speak English anymore!

  • Kevin May

    Just for the record: Mr Butcher was deputy editor of Media Week at the same time as I ran the website.

  • Stephen Cheliotis

    Hi, my company runs the selection process for Superbrands so I can clarify as fact a couple of misunderstanding. Firstly Google does not pay to be on the list – nobody does, not one single brands pays to be on that list sorry Mike you are just wrong!!!

    In fact Google has never paid Superbrands a dime but have topped a number of their lists. You are more than welcome to check with Google of course if you feel that I am in someway trying to hoodwink you all. Or call the BBC, British Airways or if you think Superbrands just leave in the big brands for free call Shangri La Hotels at 356 in the rankings, Logica CMG at 434 – in fact call any of them!!!

    Superbrands does run a membership scheme (only brands in the top 500 can be a part of it); if they sign up they get a case study, tickets to event and all manner of benefits but the ‘results’ are not linked to commercial consideration (except for the fact that thousands of brands are ineligble to become Superbrands members as they are not on the list).

    Unlike most award schemes in the industry brands do not even submit an entry -every notable brand is considered. I survey a panel of 30 key media and marketing experts and over 1500 business professionals. Happy to send you the full results if you like or in fact download them from Superbrands website! By the way the experts can’t change the professional results and they vote on the brands before the professionals not after them. You can also verify the selection process on the Superbrands website.

    On another point I am aware that Google does not spend much on advertising, as stated by others brand building does not mean advertising, although as also noted Google does spend some money on advertising.

    And yes of course the product and service quality is key to being perceived a strong brand i.e. Google. Equally there can be a disconnect between quality and perception – in my opinion British Airways is a good example of that. My experience has not been great of late but most people still think that they are! I could go on, this subject is huge (and sadly not cannot be summarised in a 200 word FT piece) but at least I hope I have clarified some misunderstandings.

    PS. Re; the FT piece the methodology was incorrectly measured – I know sometime journalist get things wrong – shocking hey Mike.

  • Mike Butcher

    Stephen Cheliotis – How much does it cost to become a member of the membership scheme? And what guarantees are in place to separate this from your editorial decisions about brands?

blog comments powered by Disqus