A picture I saw online made me think about how brands are perceived, about how a logo, a look and feel or a simple message can enter our subconscious and stay there.

In 1998, did anyone know that Google would not only become a market leader, it would become a part of the everyday language of people all over the world? No. Well, the founders may have had an inkling that they were on to something good, but 13 years later, Google is a truly ‘global’ brand – it transcends the industry it emerged from without having done anything to break away from that industry…it’s still a search engine. But it is also an email provider, a smartphone OS, a mapping system, an image library.

And you don’t notice Google ever really playing on its legacy or resting on its laurels – the brand keeps innovating, moving forward and trying new things. Very few can do that while maintaining a profile (and a turnover) that is so vast (Apple is one, Microsoft another. Outside of technology it becomes more difficult to pick an innovative global brand that is so all-pervading; perhaps because technology is an industry that is seemingly limitless).

That isn’t to say, of course, that brands away from the world of portable media players and search engines can’t be innovative – far from it. But it is an interesting point that brands in every industry are using the internet more and more to attract customers and to share ideas. Google knows that (and bought YouTube in 2006, recognising the power of the viral video); Apple knows that; Facebook knows that.

How will the web develop further? More importantly, how will brands develop their own identities and propositions as we move into a new decade?

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