Carolyn McCall CEO of The Guardian Media Group recently described the five challenges she sees ahead for online publishing. Kevin Anderson, also of The Guardian, provided the details in this post. While all five are valid, I have some additional observations about the first one:
Our brands and our staff are the foundation of our future.
Brands are clearly as important online as they are anywhere else. Google might officially say they don’t like it when their name is used as a verb, but they’re also undoubtedly proud of having built such a well-known brand.
My concern here is that while brands are critical to success, brand loyalty for online properties, especially for free services, is often quite weak. Sure, I use Google regularly throughout the day, but if a better solution comes along I’m switching to it immediately. That’s precisely why a company like Google needs to aggressively keep testing new services and acquiring promising businesses.
Consider this comparison: The corporate world has stuck with (and often complained about) Microsoft Office despite the fact that viable, cheaper alternatives have been available for years. Google would love to see that level of commitment from their user base; it might appear that they’ve already achieved that status today, but that’s mostly because nobody has built a better search mousetrap…yet.