Oodles Love Google, But Wouldn't Exactly Call It 'Fun'
Drum roll, please. Search engine Google topped Forrester Research's survey of consumers' favorite online brands, though respondents ranked the company low on qualities like "trustworthy," "relevant" and "fun."
Forty-four percent of consumers rate Google as their favorite online brand in 2009, compared with 36% in 2007. The search engine dominates in wealthy homes. Fifty-five percent of those bringing home more than $100,000 annually rank Google No. 1.
It appears relevance is still a weakness for search engines. None ranked above 35% in this category. In fact, only 25% of Google fans rate the engine as relevant. That's a category where Yahoo and Microsoft inch ahead at 33% and 30%, respectively. Meanwhile, only 35% of Google fans view the brand as trustworthy and reliable, while only 6% of YouTube fans say that company had the same attribute.
Consumers say Yahoo's "Y!ou" campaign clarifies the company's "fuzzy image." Forrester Analyst David Card credits Yahoo's new CMO for successfully bringing in Landor Associates and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to work with the company's main agency, Ogilvy & Mather.
Card says Yahoo's $100-million advertising campaign puts the focus on "relevance," and highlights "fun," another critical area where Google falls short.
Among young adults ages 18 to 24, social brands rule when it comes to fun. Sixty-nine percent of YouTube fans rate the brand as fun, while only 7% of Google lovers rank it as fun.
Following Google as favorite brands were, in order, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, YouTube, MySpace, Apple and Sony.
It appears the most popular online brands exude traditional values, too. Half of Google loyalists view traditional values as helpful, compared with 42% of Yahoo's. Amazon and eBay rated high on values. More than half of consumers who name Amazon a favorite say they trust the brand; 40% of Microsoft's fans use the same description.
So, what words come to mind when Google loyalist think of the brand? Those participating in the survey say keywords like "helpful" and "fast moving" come to mind, compared with "fun" and "unique" when thinking about YouTube.
Adjectives mentioned above take the lead at the expense of more-predictable tech-friendly characteristics like innovation and speed.
Although Google hasn't done much conventional marketing, the company has managed to sell the brand to consumers. Card doesn't have "evidence" that consumers view Google as the "evil empire," though it's a common thought among industry insiders, he says.
Forrester surveyed more than 4,823 U.S. consumers to gain insights on favorite consumer online brands. The study aimed to give marketers ideas for building relationships with consumers through two questions. The first asked consumers to pick two favorite top brands. The second asked consumers to pick attributes from a list they would relate to the brands.