Posted November 19, 2009 5:04 pm by with 8 comments

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In a word: branding. As a brand, both through their own efforts and through sheer luck, Google has been able to position itself as the #1 online brand in the US according to Forrester Research. Others among the top ten, including Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, have generated some of the same emotional responses from their fans.

The top ten brands (note that respondents selected two from a list):
forrester brands
Since 2007, MySpace suffered a precipitous fall in brand favoritism. Yahoo and eBay also suffered. Amazon saw sufficient growth to move from distant third to nearly tied for second; Google grew significantly in its #1 spot. Facebook and YouTube (and what the crap, Sony?) joined the list. Interestingly, both Microsoft and Apple saw small growth over that time.

So what qualities made these online brands stand out in respondents’ minds? Forrester points out that we might expect attributes like prestige, popularity, speed and “the social.” And we’d be wrong.

Interestingly, some of the same characteristics that associate well with offline brands: trustworthiness, helpfulness and relevance to the consumer were the top-named attributes of these brands. (In case you’re wondering, Amazon was voted most trustworthy, Google most helpful and Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Microsoft most relevant.)

There is one point that the report makes that I don’t know if I buy:

Yahoo! gets it right with “Y!ou” re-positioning. Yahoo!’s brand revitalization strategy is right on target, taking rivals on directly and clarifying its fuzzy image. Its core focus is on “relevance,” a top-tier attribute that currently doesn’t have a clear online leader. Yahoo! rivals Facebook and Microsoft show some traction here, but relevance is a relative weakness for Google. Yahoo!’s
new $100-million advertising effort also highlights “fun,” another critical attribute where Google comes up short. To drive its global revitalization, Yahoo!’s new CMO brought in Landor Associates and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to work with its main agency, Ogilvy & Mather. It launched its campaign with big TV and outdoor buys to “root the brand position.” It is following this with multichannel messaging — including explainers on its own site — around product proof points.

I agree that Yahoo’s image had grown fuzzy and that taking on its rivals directly would be helpful, but are we thinking about the same campaign?

Has there been more to the campaign than that one cringe-worthy commercial? (Because seriously, I wince every time I come across it on a Yahoo property.) It didn’t say “fun” to me (well, I guess it did, just not that “fun” had anything to do with online) and it definitely didn’t clarify their brand image. (How is emphasizing that “we’re as diverse as every single human on the earth—I mean, we’re just like you!” clarifying anything?)

I guess we’ll have to see the “explainers” and “product proof points” to see if the rest of the campaign is effective. But so far, I’m not buying it—especially not when Yahoo’s brand has taken a hit in not only this survey, but others that correlate directly with the campaign timeline.

What do you think? How have these brands acquired these attributes? Is Yahoo repositioning itself to take on more favorable attributes?