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One of my mantras is “provide every company employee with an understanding of the brand strategy.” A brand strategy being the organizing principle that drives value. Bank account value. Which is fed by perceived consumer value. When employees know the brand strategy, the good ones pursue it, use it and think about it — even on weekends.

At Zude, a start-up I was a part of in the web space, the brand strategy was “the fastest, easier way to build and manage a website.”  The CFO of Zude Jeff Finkle used to say that every employee walking to their car at night should ask his or herself “What did I do today to make Zude a faster, easier way to build and manage a website?”

When Larry Page took over from Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google, he declared this as a company mission: “To get Google to be a big company that has the nimbleness and soul and passion and seed of a start-up.”  Not a brand strategy.  It’s an operating or operations strategy. Certainly it’s laudable and good business. Certainly employees can ask themselves as they leave the building if they passed the litmus. But it’s inward focused and brand strat needs to be outward focused.  Beware the difference. Peace.

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Not to be outdone by Amazon’s drone delivery announcement on 60 Minutes Sunday Night, Google hit the front page of The New York Times today with a story trotting out Android czar Andy Rubin as head of its new robot division.  Not to be confused with Google’s self-driving cars business (Just what we need, more cars.)

And it’s not only a future thing, robots are arriving in schools daily, as my friends at Teq will tell you.  The NOA robot is setting kids a-giggle across a number of Long Island schools.  And robots are even cleaning windows now. Take that! window washers union of NY.  Drones and robots deliver on Larry Page’s vision, “Technology should be deployed wherever possible to free humans from drudgery and repetitive tasks.” Como se breathing?

Have you seen a movie trailer lately?  Or prime time TV show? They are 50% fantasy. Dude, I love technology. I also love the future…and that we’re becoming smart enough to know when we’re effing up the planet and gene pool. I love all the “springs” that are blooming…but let’s remember to take time to watch the bears (see headline); those pesky animals rolling around in our urban sprawl dumpsters.  Nature is still the best part of humanity. The craft economy or roots economy is part of that and is picking up speed. It will not outpace the robots and drones, but it’s growing.

Good marketers and brand planners see ahead of what’s trending. Peace.

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Google’s brand strategy used to be “organizing the world’s information” or putting the “world’s information one click away.”  Larry Page, seeing that his market share slipped 1.2% last year has decided to change that. He’s renamed the search division the knowledge division.  This, ironically, is the Microsoft Bing strategy – so eloquently presented in the “information overload” campaign developed by JWT a couple of years ago.  The difference between “information” and “knowledge” being that the latter takes you closer to a decision — closer to a sale.  This is a mistake.  The strategy did not move the market significantly for Bing and won’t for Google.  Google needs to stick to owning search and leave our brains to us.

cave art

What has disrupted search on the web is the smart phone. (See cover story in the NYT today for excellent piece on this.) Mobile phones are not built for full screen search, so app developers and VCs have set their sights on specialized, robust search and retrieve mobile experiences that remove the chaff and get us to information right away.  These apps, by specializing and using geo-location, trump Google and search on mobiles. They are hot — but proper monetization still isn’t happening. Ads on mobiles are still cave art.

Let’s solve the mobile ad thing by 2015.  Any ideas?   Peace.

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Google’s “culture of technological obesity” reared its really big head yesterday and the company in early 2012 will be getting into the hardware business — following its intention announced yesterday to buy Motorola Mobility.  We’re not talking a nail salon breaking out pumice stones and getting into the foot care business, were talking about a software company buying manufacturing plants, accountants to manage depreciation, thousands of other-continent employees, and then playing the materials engineering,  just-in-time game.  No Beta release here.  No limited invites here.  (I don’t know how Apple does it, frankly.)

This is one bold, bold move. And there’s no reason it shouldn’t work.  There are hundreds of reasons it shouldn’t work, but no one reason.  The justice department had better staff up me droogies.

Unless someone comes along and proves that mobile computing causes brain or pituitary cancer, mobile computing is here to stay and with one company owning the OS, device, search and funding (advertising), it feels like quite the monopoly.  And don’t think Larry Page doesn’t have his eye on Sprint or Metro PCS. Google can eat. And eat. And think. And plan. And spend. This is going to be one wild planet-changing ride! If there was a global, publically traded law firm, I’d say buy stock today. Peace!

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Here I sit this morning, in a winter wonderland of snow — on this glacial moraine we call Long Island.  And tres beautiful it is.  The storm has cleared, the sun is low casting long sharp shadows. Is there anything prettier than a holly tree branches heavy with freshies? And in the paper paper today, Google has announced Eric Schmidt will step aside come April to be replaced as leader by co-founder Larry Page.

Talk about freshies?

The spin in the papers is that Google feels it has lost a step, becoming a bit too corporate and in need of a return to its entrepreneurial roots.  Google longs to move at the speed of Facebook. Mr. Page is thought to be adult enough now to manage Google – being steeped in the fast and furious start-up culture.

No matter how you spin this thing, it suggests a management problem.  Earnings, announced yesterday, were terrific but the narrative behind the move, not so much.  Something is amiss. I can smell it and it doesn’t waft well. Stay tuned. Peace!

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