Google coming out tops

This week, Google’s brand has been ranked in the top position in the annual Brandz Top 100 Most Powerful Brands ranking. According to the ranking, the Google brand is now worth US$66,434 million.

Following in second and third place are General Electric and Microsoft with brand values of US$61,880 million and US$54,951 million respectively.

The ranking highlights once again the importance of brand usage on the internet, in particular as Google operates exclusively through the internet. Coupled with estimates that online spending is set to reach £39 billion by 2010, there is every incentive for traders to maximise their internet presence in order to promote their business.

Many high street fashion stores have established online stores and have a thrived in this environment with Internet sales in the UK set at £15.2bn in the last quarter alone. Firms with both an online and high-street presence were reported to have profited the most between October 1 and December 31 2007, while Ebay and other businesses, such as high street banks through use of internet banking, provide great examples of the benefits which can be derived by adapting business models to be internet compliant.

Birgit Schluckebier, an intellectual property lawyer at Eversheds LLP, adds “The popularity of the Google brand means that its search facility is a useful tool for retailers who want to attract customers to their websites. Retailers will naturally be keen to ensure that their websites are ranked at the top of any search results as sponsored or non-sponsored links. This can be achieved by ensuring that websites are easily accessible by search engines or using services such as Google’s AdWords to target adverts to website users searching for particular types of products.”

These measures can help up and coming brands to establish their name in the virtual world. Figures show that almost 37 million people went online every month in 2007, indicating a substantial audience for any company trying to launch their brands online.

However, there is an inherent risk associated with widely recognised brands, as Birgit points out

“Brand owners such as Google need to ensure that they take steps to control and police use of their trade mark. This applies to all retailers, as well as super brands like Google. Care should be taken that the brand is always clearly identified as such – for example by using a capital letter, the “TM” symbol or, if the mark is registered, the ‘TM’ symbol. Retailers should also check that the trade mark name is not used in a generic sense, for example as a verb. How many people refer to their domestic tasks as ‘hoovering’?

“It is important that marketing managers fully understand these concerns in order to ensure that their marketing campaigns do not inadvertently encourage the generic use of the brand.”

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