I know that right now everyone is cracking jokes about the introduction of Alphabet. And yes, I admit, it is a bit funny. But I think, that it would be a mistake not to look more closely at the event of this size – more specifically at the document that introduced it.
Let’s consider this a case of corporate storytelling and let’s slice the Larry Page’s letter to see how everything works here. Maybe we can learn something as we go.
You can find the letter here.
So the first thing you can notice is that the opening is really brief – just a few sentences. The starting sentence opens up with a phrase “wrote in the founders letter 11 years ago” that builds on the cliche on all important corporate announcements. In the spirit of “When we started this company 120 years ago, we’ve thought that it….”. When we hear this, we instantly know that this is going to be a hell of an important announcement.
The text breaks of with a reference to a future point “we do not intend to become one”. Ok, so this is how Google is not going to become a conventional company. This is where it get’s interesting as we can clearly see that the page is branded under Alphabet, but the main header image clearly says that this is about Goolge.
So we’re hooked – let’s move on.
Now, what happens here? The next two paragraphs build on the theme “we’ve been there, we’ve done that” type of narrative. But the third paragraph (ref. to the picture) establishes the conflict:
We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.
So that is the demon, that google is exorcising. The stagnation demon is the one that has to be cast away.
Up next – the journey to the promised land. Larry outlines what needs to be achieved and how it is going to happen:
Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.
After all this, I’m somehow losing interest – for me the reasons are too much undermined and the technicalities about the new company just taking to much space on the page. But anyway – the corporate story continues with the revelation of what the new company is and what it’s going to do. We are still in the journey phase.
Here is where we finally get to know our heroes. It is a nice touch that people get so much attention in the text. Though it mostly about Sundar, Sergey also gets a honorary mention.
The brand goes the last – it is explained just before the final paragraph. I believe, it is significant that people are put before brand and everything is firstly explained through the development perspective.
And I really love the bullet-list. As always the first one is the most important – getting more ambitious things done. I love the “things” part.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
So what does Google corporate storytelling teach us?
1) attract attention with clearly identifiable cues (AKA 11 years ago style)
2) create ambiguity (Alphabet page branding, Google headline, what is what style?)
3) break the narrative (the read more button)
4) define the situation (AKA how it’s been with us), define the monster (what we are fighting), define the journey (how will we get there)
5) put people before the brand
6) end up with aspirations (it seems that aspirations and bullet lists can go together easily)
Well, I think that’s quite all. Knowing how Google works, I wonder, have they tested the draft, before publishing this version?