Two days before Halloween in 2009, I wrote the following piece, "Google is like Led Zeppelin (only better)." I'd like to share it with you now. I love you.

I was just thinking about what a great branding idea it was for Google to include the word "Google" into all of its brand branch-offs (Google Wave, Gmail by Google, etc.)

Microsoft maybe was smart by trying to distance themselves from their new search engine. Simply called: Bing. I mean, no one uses Bing, but still. Nice try, Microsoft. Their last effort––Live Search, or "Microsoft Live Search"––was branded in a very Microsofty way. Similar font, feel, etc. Now don't get me wrong: Bing most likely sucks in every way, but at least they recognized the need for brand reinterpretation/disassociation.

Which is the opposite of how Google operates.

I was trying to think of something parallel to this in the arts, and the first thing I could think of was Led Zeppelin. By not really titling their first four albums, they––perhaps on accident––forced/tricked (?) the general public into calling these albums Led Zeppelin X (X = number, chronologically, of that album). Even if by album #4 they were so whacked on drugs / possessed by demons that they decided to start titling their records using strange symbols with made-up names ("Zoso") and after songs not even from that particular album (Houses of the Holy), they had already fostered enough of a 'mythic iconography' due in no small part to the establishment of their brand, via seemingly unnecessary and redundant reinforcement (via multiple self-titled efforts).

Google has obviously one-upped, or several-upped Led Zep. They've redundantly and somewhat brilliantly taken simple words (Reader, Calendar, etc.) and merely added "Google" as a sort of prefix. So it's not something overly clever like Chromehawk (a web browser developed by Google), it's just Google Chrome.

So Gmail is kind of like Google's Led Zeppelin IV. Gmail is, after all, just shorthand for Google Mail. You can call it either/or, just as you can call Led Zeppelin IV, "Zoso." Both Gmail and Zoso are kind of 'flagship' efforts that appeared at the peaks of both brands' cultural relevance.

Now it will be interesting to see where Google goes from here. It certainly seems they have no intention of ceasing their Google "Such-and-Such" naming program at this juncture.

Time will tell.


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