Small Beginnings: A Marketing Lesson From Google

google historyThink about Google – it’s an internet staple, our go-to for finding new information, and in many cases it’s the website that we cater to the most when attempting to optimize our search terms. But it definitely didn’t start out that way.

Doomed to Fail?

Consider what the Huffington Post said about Google earlier this year in an article about ridiculous startup ideas. There is a long list of reasons that Google should have gone very, very wrong from its inception, and Huffpo laid out a few of them in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion: “We are building the world’s 20th search engine at a time when most of the others have been abandoned as commoditized money-losers. We’ll strip out all of the ad-supported news and portal features so you won’t be distracted from using the free search stuff.”

From Garage to Internet Superpower

It’s true that, given its premise, Google seemed destined to fail at its inception, but it did exactly the opposite. Originally a research project that set out to explore the mathematical properties of the internet, its name an intentional misspelling of the mathematical concept “googol” – the number one with 100 zeroes following it. After the original site became too big for the Stanford domain, Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin formally incorporated the company as Google, Inc. in 1998 at a friend’s garage.

Google outgrew the garage in fairly short order. At that point in time, the site had an index of about 60 million pages and was still in beta. The growth over the subsequent 15 years was incredible. In 2004, Google moved into its current headquarters in Mountain View, California. At the time of writing, Google has almost 47 billion pages indexed with over 70 offices in over 40 countries all over the world.

The Takeaway

What exactly did Google do that was so right for the moment? With a startup idea that began in a grad student dormitory and seemed completely off base for its time, Google definitely had something figured out. As it turns out, here’s what it all comes down to: when it seems the odds are against you, you have to be good at what you do.

Some things may seem like they’re going to work against you – like Google’s clean interface with no ads in sight. However, it was its lack of clutter and ease of use that truly gave Google a leg-up against its competition.

Were you surprised to find out that Google started out in a garage? What could your brand do to push its own limits?

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Tree

Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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