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Brand Genius

Technology: Google VP of Global Marketing Lorraine Twohill

How to effectively market the most ubiquitous digital brand

Photo: Chris Gaede

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Let other marketing executives worry about how consumers perceive their brands. For Google’s Lorraine Twohill, it’s about inviting users to help create hers.

“We’re the only company on the planet that lets others play with our brand,” says Twohill, who was named Google’s vp of global marketing in 2009. “We stand for something that’s very unique and personal with users. There’s a trust there. The users feel like they own our brand.”

Part of that’s due to the ubiquity of Google itself, which has been joined by three key product brands—Android, Chrome, and YouTube—that users can adopt. But it also stems from Twohill’s willingness to take risks to market those offshoots in all kinds of “Web-centric” ways.

That doesn’t mean dispensing with traditional tactics like newspaper ads and TV spots (although the company didn’t air its first TV ad until five years after it went public). Yet a risk-averse brand manager wouldn’t ask grade-school kids to doodle their own versions of the Google logo, or launch a mobile app that lets people turn themselves into little green Androids, or solicit YouTube videos of Lady Gaga fans singing her latest hit. “I don’t think Google’s approach is ever going to be conventional,” Twohill says.

Under Twohill, Google also expanded marketing teams to 40 countries and developed an in-house Creative Lab, which enables her team to execute campaigns not only effectively, but also quickly enough to keep up with the company’s speed-obsessed engineers. The fan-packed Lady Gaga Chrome ad, which launched in May, helped attract more than 200 million browser downloads; Twohill notes that it was created, start to finish, in less than a week.

Nimble efforts like that are helping push the company to blockbuster profits. In the last quarter, Google’s revenue climbed 33 percent to $9.72 billion, putting it on track for its second consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth. “The Google brand is bigger than the sum of its parts,” Twohill says. “Our approach is to know the user, know the magic, and connect the two.”

Editor's Note: This is just one of ten Brand Genius winners being introduced by Adweek this week. Check back Wednesday through Thursday of this week for more!