Blown To Bits

Google is #1

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Google is the #1 brand in the world, according a Millward Brown report, Top 100 Most Powerful Brands ‘08. The ranking formula multiplies “Intangible earnings” by “Portion of intangible earnings attributable to brand” by “Brand earnings multiple.” Others will have to judge whether these three factors are the right ones, whether their values can be determined meaningfully, and whether that is the right way to combine them. I am a bit skeptical. The #2 brand? GE. #3 is Microsoft, #4 is Coca-Cola, and #5 is China Mobile.

If Google is the #1 brand—and that does feel right, whatever calculation produced the result—the implication is astonishing. The top brand in the world is one that almost no one had heard of a decade ago. The earliest reference I could find to “Google” in a search of newspaper archives was a May 31, 1998 column by Bradley Peniston in the Annapolis, MD Capital, entitled “Yahoo for new search engine.” (That’s leaving out all the articles about the Barney Google comic strip.) A week later, in his next column, Peniston had to explain where to find Google—on the Stanford web site!

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