It’s official; Google is the most dynamic brand in the world. It beat all other tech companies to the top of the “D100” list this month, including Facebook and Apple. IPG Mediabrands worked with Dr Jonah Berger from Wharton Business School to measure 100 of the world’s leading companies against four new dimensions; agility, responsiveness, innovation and sociability.
According to Berger, brands that do well in this index have 61% higher revenue growth year on year. Berger is joined at Cannes Lions by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, in a panel moderated by Mark Thompson, CEO of the New York Times.
So what is it about Google that has consistently prevented it from being overtaken? As Schmidt puts it, robust growth of their new businesses has been the only way to avoid being upended by a “rougher, tougher” start-up.
“We’ve always taken the position that the product creates the brand,” he says, “and a bad product is a bad brand.”
There’s a lot of anxiety around large tech platforms right now, says Thompson, describing the legitimate concerns of many consumers regarding privacy, security and regulation. But if people were really unhappy with Google specifically, it would show up in one of the four key metric of the study. Instead, what Berger has generally found is that as long as people feel companies are using their data to make life easier for them, they don’t mind. It’s when they begin to feel that they’re being targeted unfairly that it becomes irksome.
“They’re extremely sophisticated with respect to manipulation, being lied to, being marketed to,” says Schmidt. “So if you can come up with a metric or a story that’s authentic, then you can get your attention.” Essentially, Thompson points out, the same techniques and media employed by The New York Times to get people to interact with its journalism are the same that advertisers use to get people to engage with brands. And right now, that means YouTube, 360, and VR.
“We’re just at the beginning of what you can do with video,” says Schmidt. “We’re still in static stories.” He believes that the photorealism of some combat and strategy games will next be applied to all aspects of storytelling, and challenges the audience at Cannes Lions to ensure that their medium fits their message. “Each of you should try to come up with some narrative that is compelling in 360,” he says, “and if you do that, you will get the lion’s share.”
And while newer generations might not sit down to read a newspaper or watch a packaged news report in the same way that their parents would, both Schmidt and Thompson disagree with the widespread notion that younger consumers are frivolous and have short attention spans. It certainly has not been the experience of the New York Times, which currently has around 33 million millennial consumers coming to their platform for long-form features, as well as video and VR content.
“It’s always a mistake to assume younger people aren’t as smart as you are,” says Schmidt. “They’re actually smarter than you are.”