There might be all kinds of fascinating self-protective reasons why Google is launching the Android phone in conjunction with T-Mobile. However, at least as interesting a development this past week is the company's entry into Interbrand's list of the top 10 brands in the world.
Google's sudden appearance at No. 10 represents a jump of 10 places and puts the company at a, for some, surprising 14 places above Apple. And a few thousand places above Bear Stearns.
Directly above Google is Disney and one rung below you'll find Mercedes. Much further down you'll find Nike, eBay, Starbucks and, something that shows a peculiar lack of taste among the judges, Prada.
It's clear that the Google brand has enormous equity. And, now that the company is beginning to associate itself with tangible objects rather than just fungible words, a thought comes to mind: what objects would you buy from Google?
I ask because perhaps the last brand that carried with it as much young, positive emotional equity was Virgin.
Virgin represented an intuitive understanding of youth--not just young boys, but the positive emotions that come from being young, free, and just slightly different. It also enjoyed a product that was clearly better than its rivals and senior management that was as happy to express its uniqueness by flying around in balloons as Google's bosses are to disclose their personal DNA.
Virgin thought it could use its brand equity to sell, amongst other things, cosmetics, clothes, financial services, flowers, and space flights. And, um, vodka. Oh, and health clubs, bridal wear, cell phones, cola, and video games. And stem cell storage. All with varying degrees of success.
But what if Google got together with some other incredibly talented (and young, naturally) folks and launched, dare one even suggest it, a gPod?
What about Google Health Farms, specifically created for those suffering laptop-induced repetitive strain syndrome and general brain freeze? What about Google Gear, specially engineered for the Cool-But-Not-Really look?
Given that Google's management seems to be fairly proficient at making money, might you one day be inclined to trust a Google Bank (a bank with a heart? a Democratic Bank?)? Or what if they launched some Odwalla-style healthy drinks that were originally created to enhance the brainpower of the company's staff?
If Philippe Starck is trusted enough to design a chair, an apartment, a toothbrush, and a house (oh, and a wind turbine), might the Google brand be successfully attached to anything that was clearly the product of an abnormal abundance of brains? Like an insanely green car, a revolutionary laptop, or an intelligent city council?
I know that brands are supposed to stay close to their core competence. But it would seem a shame if so much brainpower were merely concentrated on, well, selling advertising.
So I am secretly hoping that this Android experiment will merely be a taste of one of the world's top 10 brands contributing to the deep, abundant, and sensual pleasure we all get from various inanimate objects.