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Brand New: Google Reworks its Brand Architecture

By Kristy Gulsvig

Mashable reported that Google plans to retire its popular Picasa and Blogger brands and rename these services under the Google brand name. This move comes as a bit of a surprise given the popularity of the two existing brands, but brings up some interesting questions about brand architecture.

A simplified “Master Brand” structure is often the most efficient. Here are some reasons to simplify brand architecture:

  • Multiple names and identities can cause confusion. Your customers may wonder what your company stands for? How do the separate entities relate? Is one better than the other?
  • Multiple brands are expensive to maintain since each brand requires some level of budget to support it. Consolidating into a single brand allows you to concentrate your marketing dollars on building a single name and identity, pulling in more awareness and interest.
  • Often times, the parent brand is stronger, larger, and more established. Sub-brands often benefit by a strong association to the parent.

On the other hand, companies are often uneasy about retiring sub-brands. What about existing brand identity and equity? Will customers know us by the parent name? Won’t they miss the brand they are already used to? Generally, it depends on the particular situation and there are many factors to consider, including the long-term strategic intent, and existing brand equity/loyalty.

One of our favorite examples of consolidating brand architecture is Kinkos. Acquired by FedEx in 2004, the Kinkos brand – although it had strong recognition – was slowly enveloped into the FedEx name. Today, the Kinkos brand has completely disappeared and has been replaced with “FedEx Office” – part of the streamlined brand architecture that FedEx uses.

Now, we have another great example. Google plans to retire the widely popular Picasa and Blogger brands and rolling them into the ever expanding suite of Google-branded products. And unlike the lengthy FedEx transition, Google plans to roll out this change before the fall.

How will the market react? How will these products fare without their existing brand names? Although there are still many unanswered questions, it’s apparent that Google sees the value in a simplified brand architecture.