Google is a verb in our culture, in fact, it’s more than that, it’s a representation of a new way of understanding our relationship to knowledge. That’s A Pretty Big Deal, and it’s also got to be insanely frustrating to a company like, well, Yahoo, which had the chance to own the very same thing back in the late 90s. (It’s also frustrating to the poor sods in Google legal, see here).
So I found this announcement interesting – Yahoo is asking its users to remix its brand, in what seems a clear attempt to nudge the Yahoo brand next to Google’s in our cultural reference set. In fact, the blog entry announcing the contest acknowledges Google’s dominance in the field:
There’s been some reports about how Google is trying to stop people from using the term, googling. When I heard about it, I was like, “Hello, gift horse, mouth!”….People don’t often do what you want them to do, and brands are more about what consumers think, than what companies want. We’re ok with that. You want the yodel? Have it anytime you want (just mouse over the ! on the front page and click). Is Yahoo! a verb, noun or exclamation? Maybe it’s all of them.
So Yahoo is open sourcing its brand (and its yodel to boot.) Not a bad idea, but … to quote another famous brand campaign: where’s the beef? The only thing that will get culture to form a lasting impression around a brand, one that matters as much as A New Relationship To Knowledge, anyway, is, well, a new relationship to knowledge. That doesn’t come around very often. Though, I must admit, I’m eager to see another one soon. It has been more than ten years since Alta Vista and Overture, after all.