NAMING IS HARD
ALPHoogle • Googabet • BetaLetters • Gaagle • I give up.
Say you’re tasked with naming the company that OWNS GOOGLE; how do you do it? What can you come up with that answers all the questions you need answered? What is bigger than Google? Almost nothing. What uses the unique sound that Google created for itself? Another nonsense word?
Google is designing their future by making bold moves, which is rare for a company of their size. Traditional corporate etiquette dictates that the larger you get, the more risk there is in every decision you make; therefore older established firms make micro adjustments rather than sweeping changes. Google is behaving differently because it was founded on design principles. It’s bound to freak some people out.
I used the word design to describe what I see because I am a designer, but the argument is still applicable. Call them what you want, developers, engineers or code-monkeys — their tribe and the design tribe have a similar character trait: direction by problem solving. The best solution wins, period. Any project – regardless of history or investment – is subject to change. They are more likely to make decisions based on different criteria than established monolithic firms because their DNA is different.
Google’s median age is 29.
With this core belief existing in the management culture of Google, it is no surprise that they have re-organized to better reflect their mission. Their median age is 29, which also gives a nod to an organization capable of change. Some have reacted to this change with shock or surprise. But when the situation is deconstructed it warrants no shock at all. Google’s dialogue and discussions have embodied this path for years, but the conversation concerning actual name change and reorganization was behind closed doors. Surprise!
Naming is a major part of branding, and its power and value is underestimated. In 2009 I spoke to the late Michael Cronan and his wife Karin Hibma about how best to approach a naming project. Their group CRONAN is responsible for naming both the TiVo and the Kindle. It was a wonderful discussion, but one of the most poignant things that Michael said that night was this:
“It’s finding something that represents the essence of what something will become.” — Michael Cronan
We are filled with speculation about what Alphabet could mean for the future of the company and its products, and the good people at Alphabet probably don’t fully understand it either. They have a vision, but that doesn’t always define what actually happens. The name Alphabet is fitting in that sense; they can literally write anything they want in their next chapter of life. Call it cheesy or crack jokes at it; the word works.
The visual representation of the brand won’t be nearly as public or “consumer-facing” as all the rest of its products, so the subtle hint at professionalism with almost no flair is understandable. Its an umbrella house of brands now, not an overlord of everything “Googly.” I’m actually kind of glad we can walk away from that notion now and let the group assume its more matured form; whatever that may be. This move allows them to do it.