Once again, Google has been named the world's most valuable brand in a BrandZ study - with a brand value over $86 Billion. This probably doesn't surprise many of you. Google is a commonplace term and is even used as a verb by many people instead of the word "search".
The surprise is that Google does not advertise. They use inbound marketing.
OK, now I am sure someone will leave a comment saying they once saw an ad for jobs at Google. Or Google sponsored an event they went to, etc. But really. Think about it. The other brands in the top 10 all rely on advertising that is based in interruption and distraction - TV, print, outdoor billboards, radio - as a core part of their marketing. They are also all older brands than Google. Some are many decades older - GE, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, IBM, Apple, McDonald's, Nokia, Marlboro. (I did not include China Mobile on the list because this blog's audience is English speaking, but their presence says interesting things about globalization and the importance of China.) All of these other brands have spent hundreds of millions or perhaps billions more on advertising than Google over the years.
Sure, now that Google is big there may be an ad or two here or there, but that is not how Google built their brand. The other companies built their brand by interrupting my enjoyment of a nightly sitcom with their 30 second TV spot. (But now I can skip those ads using my DVR... so maybe that is why they are having a hard time increasing their brand value to keep up with Google?)
Google has laid the path for marketers of the future.
Google's brand dominance is further evidence that the traditional advertising model is broken, and companies need to shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing. Build a remarkable product (read "Purple Cow" from Seth Godin) and then create lots of content that is interesting to your audience and publish it on your blog. Make it easy for your best customers to communicate with others, probably using social networks. Help your management team engage with your target market through blogs and social networks. Track everything you do and optimize it. Listen to customer feedback and improve your product. Don't buy your way in with advertising or beg your way in with PR. Publish your own way in with a blog, videos on YouTube, a website and more. (last two lines are from marketing guru David Meerman Scott)
Big companies used to be able to have the most powerful brands because they were the only ones that could buy TV ads. Google has proven this is no longer true.
The next move is yours. What are you going to do to leverage the power of inbound marketing?