The web brand is useful, clear, simple, interactive, and most importantly, customer-centric."Google has knocked Microsoft off the top spot and been named the most powerful global brand of 2007," Gemma Simpson wrote for in April 2007. "It's the second year in a row a tech brand has beaten household names such as Coca-Cola, Marlboro and Toyota." The brand ranking was carried out by market researcher, Millward Brown Optimor, and factored in financial performance and consumer sentiment. Google had a brand value of more than $66 billion, nearly double its value in the 2006 ranking. A consumer poll published in January 2007 by online branding magazine,, found that Google had retained its title as the world's most influential brand. Video-sharing site, YouTube, and online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, were at No. 3 and 4. Commenting on the poll, Reuters stated that "Internet companies are becoming more important to people than firms that operate in the real world." Here are the five most important characteristics of web brands: # Web brands are useful # They have a clarity of purpose # The embrace simplicity # They interact and engage # They are customer-centric (1) Web brands are useful Google has a market capitalization of $153 billion because it is useful. I will easily change my car brand, my mobile phone brand, my shoe brand, but I will not change Google. I will not change from Google because it helps me find stuff faster than other search engines. Search is purposeful. We don't search for the fun of it. We search because we need to find something that will help us complete a task. The Web is a functional, no-frills pace. It may be our goal to spend more time with our family, but we go to the Web to get a good deal on a family vacation. (2) Clarity of purpose When you arrive at the homepage of a quality web brand you know immediately what it is about-what it can do for you. A web brand is not a murder mystery. It tells you who did it right from the very first line. "Google is an absolutely phenomenal brand in the sense that it is very clear what it stands for and it has perceived leadership and innovation," Peter Walshe, global brands director at Millward Brown, told (3) Making life more simple Quality web brands save us time. They don't force us to think too much. The BUY button is nice and big. It's easy to figure out what to do next. It's hard to get lost. We only need to read the sentence once to understand it. We are not overawed and confused by too many choices. (4) Web brands interact and engage Craigslist has 10 million customers and gets over four billion page views per month. It has 22 employees. Wikipedia is a hugely popular website. It has 10 employees. Skype has 171 million customers. It has 510 employees. Web brands have a different concept of the organization. They see the Web as the organization. They see their customers as part of the organization. (5) Web brands are customer-centric Great web brands are built around the customer. They don't start out with this question: How can we make money out of customers? Rather, they start with this question: How can we help customers do things they need to do? —- Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.