What's in a name? Well, if you are a company, the answer is: everything. America is a consumer culture, and a company's long-term viability relies heavily on branding and brand loyalty. Sometimes, a company's brand is entirely built on the quality of their products or services. Other times, customers are drawn to the "cool factor" associated with a certain brand (especially when it comes to fashion).
In light of all this, many were surprised to learn recently that Google will be changing its name . . . sort of. The search-engine giant has long been involved in other projects, some of which are related to its primary function and some of which are "moon shots." Google will remain the name of the company's internet-related products and services. But the company is also creating a parent company called Alphabet Inc., which will encompass Google and all of the company's side projects.
The announcement is already causing a stir, and two recent news articles are good examples of just how important names and branding can be. The Washington Post reported that Google's stock price increased by 5 percent after it made the announcement about creating Alphabet Inc.
The second article discusses the potential for legal issues around trademark infringement. Automaker BMW already operates a subsidiary under the name Alphabet, and the company is reportedly looking into whether or not Google is infringing on its trademark rights. Google also chose a name for its parent company that is surprisingly common. According to Reuters, there are more than 100 trademark registrations on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that contain the word alphabet or a variation of it.
It's unclear at this point if Google or the new Alphabet Inc. will face any legal pushback over trademark infringement. It is also unclear whether average consumers will start using the name or if they will just stick with "Google" when referring to Alphabet's other projects. After all, Google is one of the world's most widely known companies, and its name can hardly be divorced from its success.