For the second year running, Google was named top brand out of a list of 100 composed by research and consulting company Millward Brown Optimor.
The search company is worth a staggering $86.1 billion, followed by GE at $71.4 billion and Microsoft at $70.8 billion. The consultancy gauged the brand values based on the financial performance of the company combined with a brand equity survey of more than 100,000 global consumers.
What does this mean? It means that despite the rise and fall of Google's stock, the insistence from financial vultures to look for chinks in Google's strong ad armor and the recession we're sliding into, Google is still the top company around, at least on a financial + perception basis.
Finance + consumer perception? What more evidence do you need than that to realize that Google is in pretty good shape in the face of a growing recession?
Millward Brown Optimor says this is a big deal, since the strong brands will weather recessions well, balancing out the companies that watch their bottom lines choke and begin to flail. I happen to agree.
Back in 1999, when Pets.com and others were flopping like so many koi carp in a dredged up, dried out pond, companies such as IBM, Microsoft and HP kept the tech sector treading water. Google just happens to be the new ocean liner in the dock.
OK, stop with the Titanic jokes before you even start.
Indeed, Google and Microsoft led the high-tech sector, which claimed 28 of the top 100 brands to outperform all other categories, according to Millward Brown Optimor.
The news comes days after Google announced a 31 percent profit and paid click growth of 20 percent. ComScore had expected lower-paid click growth and in the aftermath the research company has gotten publicly flouted as a doomsayer.
Google's stock will continue to fluctuate, but Millward Brown brand study underscores the value of the company. Googlers will still leave to work at other startups, but don't expect a collapse at Google any time soon.
One thing we should all watch is headcount (and we know Google is). I started watching Google closely in September and at the time there were north of 16,000 employees. Now there are more than 19,000.
Can Google support that growth as the economy gets weaker? Given Google's structure, how does it make cuts? You don't want to chuck the engineers.
My guess is there will be cuts in ad sales, possibly even the enterprise. Units that aren't pulling their weight, including areas where Google is getting killed by the competition, could be shut down, too.
Until this begins to happen--and if it does it probably won't be until 2009--let the study serve as a wake-up call to the doomsayers proclaiming Google is in trouble. I just don't see it.