The results revealed a 20% profit slump, but what was the biggest potential long-term damage to the brand – the figures or the bungling?
Business results matter, but all companies have ups and downs. Many traditional media companies have suffered reversals in the face of changing markets – areas where Google has benefitted in the past. CEO’s present to the analysts, explain the figures, make their future forecasts, and get on with job.
Share prices suffer for the company (Google was down 9% when shares were suspended) – but that is a business fact. Investors will take a long view of performance and projections and move on. It is a pragmatic decision.
Brand damage is another thing – it is an emotional dimension. We don’t have quantitative measures such as share prices, though all are interlinked. Crucially, the brand is more likely to be damaged by the apparent bumbling and fundamental errors in releasing the results early.
The Google brand has ridden quite high, displaying sound judgement and competence, where other internet brands have skidded from error to error.
The general public is often unconcerned with corporate performance so long as the brand is comfortably between the extremes of insolvency and excess profits. PR disasters are likely to inflict more lasting dents.
This blip for Google is unlikely to be an enduring or terminal issue. It should be a warning to all of us however not to take eyes off the details of process, especially in corporate communications, however big and successful we grow.