Is Google Rebranding or De-branding?

Resolved: People, for whatever reason, tend to view Google as less of a brand and more of a utility.

Suggested reasons: Google is, in fact, utilitarian. It’s under-branded to the extreme, and even its logo is generic.  Before anyone had Google accounts or Gmail, we were already using “google” as a verb.  The lack of flash, the absolute dearth of iconography…the lame font and funny multi-colored name, these things are disarming almost to the point of making you forget that Google wants each and every bit of your personal information even more (perhaps) than Facebook.

Facebook is nothing if not a brand.  Rightly or wrongly, we think we get what Mark Zuckerberg is all about, and that necessarily flavors our understanding of his company’s ethics, ambition, and culture.

I said last week that when I’m using Google+, I don’t feel like I’m in some proprietary fishbowl circa 1990s AOL.  Google looks and acts like a utility, and we’ve come to think of access to what Google does best (search) as precisely that.  Facebook is a fishbowl by design, and Zuckerberg’s quest to keep you in/on Facebook for all your webly needs shows that he’s bound and determined to validate and more effectively monetize Steve Case’s old vision. Maybe Google+ does, as Zuckerberg claims, validate Facebook’s (old) vision, but only in terms of ambition.  Plus is built with the relationships grown-ups have in mind, and Facebook was built as a college network.  It has adapted over the years to fit the needs of adults, but it still feels like your last visit to the pediatrician.  Early adopters are hitting 30 and needing a social network that’s intuitive and easily customizable, something more akin to real-world connections than “friending” and more useful and dynamic than boring old LinkedIn.

Last week we learned that Google will retire the Blogger and Picasa brands as they begin to roll those services into Plus.  Is everyone starting to understand that Google+ is Google, and Google is Google+?  Blogger.com is the epitome if Web2.0 branding, and if you’re not already using Picasa, it just feels like another thing.  So Google is rolling these brands into itself, making them more useful and more generic than they’ve ever been.  The lighter the brand recognition, the more likely we are to trust you with our data.  Silly, isn’t it, given Google’s size, influence, and sometimes-faltering commitment to publicly stated values?  Sure is.  But it’s also true.

Don’t think so?  Check out Delloitte’s recent study proving that we already hate branded apps.  While Facebook is busy becoming the largest branded app in history, Google is de-branding everything but YouTube (which also doesn’t feel like a brand).  Interesting, isn’t it?

Goodbye, Blogger. Hello, Bloggers! Google To Rebrand Picasa and Blogger.com

Google's homepage in 1998
But seriously, can we please bring back the ! ?

Eagle-eyed reader Joey the C sent me a link with the news that the Picasa and Blogger brands are going bye-byes.  I said the other day that Google+ is a great way to make Picasa relevant, and the shift to Google Photo and Google Blogs makes total sense as Google positions itself for the widespread rollout of Google+.  They need a unified front, afterall.  And before we compare them too much to the old AOL fishbowl (which Facebook is trying to become), the seams between Google’s products feel…nimbler…to me.  With Google+ and the overall Google account experience, I still feel like I’m out on the web, whereas with Facebook, I feel very much like I’m on one site or in one social network.  Thoughts?

I, for one, will be glad to see the Blogger name retired.  We’re all bloggers, and most of us use WordPress =).

Dear Google: Keep It Simple So We’ll Stay

Over the last few weeks I’ve had quite a few posts up about comics.  Over the last two days, I’ve been hitting the Google+ meme.  Now, finally, I shall combine them.  Or two other people will.

Seriously, Google.  Do not bring games and pokes and all of that stuff onto Google+.  That’s what Facebook is for, and if you want to succeed at being a better Facebook and making current Facebook the new My___, then keep things simple.  More Berkshire Hathaway (yes, that is their real website), than, well, whatever the oppo WHAT? WARREN BUFFET OWNS DAIRY QUEEN? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?

 

 

Did Google Just Find a Way to Make GoogleBuzz Usable?

Yes, I think they did, and those sneaky sneakersons did it with Google+.  They also snuck relevance into Picasa while you weren’t looking. 

Within Google+, GoogleBuzz is like a separate feed of whatever you’ve set to automatically go to Buzz (since no one, ever, uses Buzz on purpose). So if your Twitter is set to go to Buzz, it now also goes to your feed on Google+.  The same is true for whatever you Buzz on the web.  There’s also a +1 feed for whatever you +1.  Both of these are separate from what you post “in” Google+  I think this is convenient.  I haven’t figured out all of the privacy issues, but +1’s are public by nature.  The Photos stream integrates Picasa, which, by the way, can receive automatic uploads (set to private by default) whenever you take a picture on your smart phone.

Google, you are sly.  Very, very sly.

I Just Got Google+ and These Are My Thoughts About What It Might Be. Also, if You Want an Invite, Let Me Know.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m excited.

Two days ago, I did a 15 minute video blog about why I thought Google may have finally found a way to do social and to drive a wedge in the Facebook monolith.  The video quality wasn’t great, so I’ll summarize here:

The Circle:

From all the previews I’ve seen, the Circles feature looks really promising. I’ve always wanted an easy, intuitive, built-in way to share certain things to specific groups, and I feel like Facebook’s lists and groups are too cumbersome, mostly because they were an afterthought.  By all accounts, Google+ was built around the Circles concept.

Nativism:

Google users don’t need to opt into Google+ or rebuild their entire social graph.  Google+ is a social layer, the big picture of all the other services combined (see black bar).  If you’re already on Google, you’re already on Google+ (once it rolls out to you).  Because so many of us who work in creative fields or freelance use Gmail as a professional address, Google+ is a natural place to begin drawing circles around what we want to share privately, with friends only, with family, and with bosses, coworkers, and clients.  This may mean that adults who are already using Gmail will be the early Google+ adopters and will use it for easy sharing to their professional and social graphs. Which leads me to the next piece:

Grown-ups:

If creatives and other professionals in their 20s-40s make Plus their own, the Facebook demographic  might get much, much younger  This is what happened to MySpace.  Maybe it sounds far-fetched, but Facebook was built for college kids and has been retrofitting for adult use ever since.  Google+ was designed the managing of adult relationships (business, personal, and so on) as a core concern.  It’s different by design.  I’m going to hop on soon and see if I am right.

Chris Cocca Is Wrong About Everything + Novels + Hess’s Department Store + Paul Ceglia and Facebook: Search Term/SEO Answer Bag #57

I’ll start this edition of the Search Term Answer Bag by admitting two things:

  • It’s not really, sequentially, #57.  That’s just its name.  Probably because I like ketchup.
  • I stole the whole idea from David Letterman’s old “CBS Mail Bag” routine.  “Letters, we get letters, we get lots and lots of letters! LETTERS!”

and a suspicion:

  • I am approximately one half of this blog’s audience who gets a kick out of this bit.  Good enough for me.

Now, on to the search terms!

First, my favorite:

chriscocca is wrong about everything?

Even here, I was only wrong half the time.

Classic.  There are a few other Chris Coccas out there in the world, so I won’t be big-headed enough to claim that this was a query about me as a matter of fact.  But for the sake of this post, we’ll go with it.

I appreciate that this was searched with a question mark and not a exclamation point or, even worse, a period. As far as an answer goes, I’m willing to say that I’m probably not wrong about every single thing, but we can’t really be sure.  I also think chriscoccaiswrongabouteverything would be a great name for a website not called The Daily Cocca, and it would be an excellent follow-up album to the still-on-hiatus uppityupalexvanderpoolera.

Searching for verbs and/or prepositions:

what to when you are almost finished a novel?

It’s unclear here whether the asker is almost finished reading or writing said novel. If reading, I’d say get ready to pick your next book. If writing, I’d say get ready to revise. That’s when the real writing happens.  If you’ve done that, and have met with good writers groups and gotten feedback you trust and then revised again and then again and are sure you manuscript is exactly what it should be, then I guess you start sending query letters to agents and try to start publishing excerpts.

A get a lot of hits from people looking for information about Hess’s Department Store.

Behind the South Mall in 2011. Image by Frank Tienstra.

And rightly so. It was an amazing place.  Today’s proper question:

when did hess’s dept store allentown pa remodel the front of the store

Sadly, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m guessing it was before I was born (1980).  Can any Allentonians/Lehigh Vallians help me out here?  I’ve been getting a lot of hits from people looking for the famous rainbow-colored sugar from the Hess’s Patio Restaurant.  I know you used to be able to buy it at MusikFest, and I’m willing to bet you can find it on ebay if not at places like the Moravian Bookstore or the Lehigh County Heritage Center.  Sadly, I can’t be much help with those seeking strawberry pie recipes.  But I can share this post, with 30+ commentators sharing their favorite Hess’s memories. Really a special place. I can also share this bittersweet, recent image sent to me by Frank Tienstra. It’s one of the old Hess’s trucks still sitting behind the South Mall as of January.  Sad for anyone who knows what Hess’s was all about.

Lastly, a question about Facebook:

is facebook layout changing again for the summer 2011

I really don’t think so, but this could be one of the things I’m wrong about.  Mashable has some of the best coverage of social media developments: here’s the Facebook news aggregator-inator.   Soon, you may have better luck asking this guy:

Not Mark Zuckerberg

Never heard of Paul Ceglia?  He’s the chap that might (ooops) own half of Facebook.  So who knows?  Maybe Paul has a few design ideas stashed with all those old emails he keeps finding.  When I first heard about this case last year, I thought it was a long shot.  But the plot keeps thickening. When I try to imagine what might be the next big thing to come along and knock Facebook off the block, I have a pretty hard time.  But you know what?  It might just end up being Mark Zuckerberg.

Curating Beauty



I’ve had a few discussions recently about the utility and value of services like Facebook, WordPress, twitter, and Flickr. The reasons people use various social media platforms or begin sharing content online in the first place keep changing, but doesn’t 2011 already feel like the Year of Curation? That word is everywhere. I’ve used it two or three times in recent posts here, and it’s turning up in comments and discussions about whether the presentation offered by The Daily‘s (News Corp’s iPad newspaper) editorial team will be worth 99 cents per digital issue when the web is deep and wide like a Doors song and so much of it is free. If you’re already not paying for most of the content you enjoy, why pay for curation when your friends and colleagues are so eager to share opinion, art, entertainment, and news?

As the social networks have grown, it’s been fashionable to talk about how much information we passively consume through our various feeds. But we’re also busy passing on things that move us, that strike us, that frustrate or empower us. We don’t always do that with tact — we’re still learning. That we can do it at all, but also with power and speed, well, that’s still new to history. While you’re praying for Egypt and everywhere people struggle, think about what you consume and what you curate. Keep sharing those things that give life.

Today, I’m sharing this picture I found on Flickr. It took my breath away…the moment was, dare I say, holy. I hope you experience something like that this week. Happy Monday to all.

(Birds originally uploaded by shutter41)