Dr. Mariann Hardey

Digitally on.

Speaker, Writer, Academic.

Durham University Lecturer.

I do stuff for the BBC.

Feminist & lovely.

Slanguage of social media

Alphabet remains inside the McBrand

August 2015

McBRAND: A well-known, global, common-prestige product, with variable/little competition from wider market sector. Frequently considered an everyday brand by ordinary everyday people. 

Inspired by Douglas Coupland: Generation X, "McJOB"

Google "Advertising" and you will get About 2,380,000,000 results (0.47 seconds). The value of advertising, marketing and information plays an increasingly important role amongst the Internet of Things.  However, it has been suggested that some forms of operation are less desired than others.  Today Larry Page, once CEO of Google, announced Alphabet - Alpha-bet (Alpha the investment return above the initial benchmark) abc.xyz.  

Though Page is quick to add, we are NOT intending for this [Alphabet] to become a big consumer brand.  

The line being drawn is out of a reluctance to muddy Alphabet companies (that will be indepdent and have their own brands) - the type of BIG branding that we could term 'McBrands' - large-scale organisations with wide brand reach and little differentiation. 

What is this magic that Page is wielding? the business knowledge that to scale, differentiation action may be required to encourage new types of business and innovation and to provide a clear demarcation between the global brand of Google and the transition into specialised businesses in the internet economy. 

Critics of Page's approach to promoting true differentiation would be quick to point out the use of Google as brand association and advertising tool to announce Alphabet.  At once then dominating the potential 'new' markets and business innovation. And there's some run in this take. Perhaps Page and others are insecure in their new venture, more Alpha than worth a sure bet. It would appear that some of this is less about differentiation than advertising seeking and with experience in Google and Google related products Page reveals himself the reluctant risk taker; reluctant to take a risk without name-dropping Google, and 'Making Google even better through greater focus'. This then is the equivalent of the so-called McBrands encountered by such protagonists of the popular novels of Douglas Coupland's: Generation X, there the prospect was from the McJobs

If differentiation and innovation are to be encouraged, especially away from the Google front-end, then Alphabet has its work cut out. Or rather Page and friends do.  The clear demarcation is to be encouraged to expand away from Search and other well-known products to innovate.  However, it is also the responsibility of Page and friends to get out of the trap of McBranding, by ensuring there are decent, clear-cut, conditions for development and advancement.  One example, the relationship between Google and Google Ventures and then Google Capital has never been entirely clear: Google Ventures invested $238 million in Uber in August 2013 (its largest deal to date) and yet Google (as part of Waze) launched rival ridesharing company RideWith in Herzliya, Tel Aviv and Ra’anana - the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app.

Without such commitment on the part of Page, then Alphabet will continue to be viewed as part of the McBrand of Google - considered an everyday brand, but ordinary everyday people - but to be avoided at all costs by the proper affiliation Page seems to be calling for in terms of the prospects and a degree of pride, dignity and autonomy for Alphabet.  

Out of the McBrand, Google intends to retain core businesses we are already familiar such as YouTube, Android, Maps, Mail, Search, and Ads.

And then here the much needed line - Calico (a project to extend human lifespan), Google X lab, Nest, Fiber, Ventures, and Capital will become subsidiaries of Alphabet with their own CEO's. Under the new structure, it is anticipated that Alphabet will become a publicly-traded company independent of Google, yet the safety net being with all shares retaining the same rights and value as current Google shares. 

Alphabet remains inside the McBrand.