Google: Doug Edwards

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In a world full of ever zippier Web sites, search engine Google seems glaringly low-tech, sort of like Yahoo! was before it became an uber-portal with the weight of the Internet world on its shoulders.

By contrast, you could analyze Google's marketing simply as a quest to create a satisfying search experience and you'd have much of its story. Google's playful name and colorful logo hide powerhouse technology, making it possible for product-as-hero to be the brand's marketing philosophy. Google executives obsess over adding even one character to the site's pared-down interface, lest it turn off users.

"We're very cognizant of the speed with which the page loads," says Marketing Director Doug Edwards, 43. Such attention to the user experience has caused traffic to grow by a steady 20% month over month since the company's debut in 1998. The site is regularly ranked in the top 20 Internet properties.

While Google did some limited print and radio ads last year through Pickett Advertising, San Francisco, its main focus is on improving the site's uncannily accurate technology and letting word-of-mouth-lubricated by getting founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin into the press-do the rest.

Even though the site attracts techies and newbies alike, it maintains an underground vibe. "Your sense of ownership and pride [about using the site] is much higher," Mr. Edwards explains about the strategy.

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