11th August 2015

Has new Alphabet holding company wiped Google’s brand slate clean?

If, like us, you’ve been keeping an eye on BBC News 24 this morning, you’ve probably, by now, seen the news that tech giant, Google, is rebranding itself as Alphabet Inc – a new holding company of which the search engine will be a subsidiary.

Announced in a blog post published after stock markets closed last night, the restructuring will see Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, remain in charge of Alphabet, an umbrella company controlling a collection of individual businesses, including Google. The Google name will remain on our computer screens, but will be replaced by Alphabet as the publicly traded entity.

The creation of Alphabet is more than just a transformation of the way Google is run though. It has major implications for the Silicon Valley stalwart’s brand, both in the eyes of consumers and investors.

Google was recently named as the world’s leading brand by the Futurebrand Index 2015, so what happens when shareholders see a new name appear on stock exchange listings? Will the Google brand be as impressive for consumers if it is no longer quite so ubiquitous?

Well, as Page and Brin argue in their announcement, Alphabet is not destined to be a big consumer brand with related products. Nor is it replacing the Google name that consumers see every time they access the internet. Rather, it’s a platform to give the company’s disparate smaller business units the independence to develop their products and form their own brand identities without being overshadowed by their search engine parent’s.

The rebrand is also an opportunity to address the growing public confusion identified by the Futurebrand Index about the purpose of Google as a brand, as well as its sister marques. In future, when consumers see the name Google, they can rest assured they know what the brand’s product is and its relevance to their needs.

In addition, the new Alphabet structure will improve transparency for shareholders. The company has a number of very eclectic strings to its bow, developing self-driving cars, smart devices, medical research, investment… the list goes on. Having distinct brands for each of these business units, instead of one big name, will help investors identify where their money is going, how it is being spent and whether it is generating a return. This openness is crucial to encouraging more people to invest in the company’s future and furthering Alphabet’s development as a cutting-edge business.

Based on Google’s stock market performance today, investors seem confident that the restructure is a step in the right direction, with shares soaring five per cent in after-hours trading. It remains to be seen, however, whether the shakeup will have the desired positive impact on the business and its many brands long-term. I, for one, will be keeping an eye out.

By Michael Wood, Senior B2B Copywriter