NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Does this mean we have to call Internet searches "Alphabetting?
"From a consumer facing standpoint, you'll almost never see Alphabet," Deacon Webster, chief creative officer of the advertising firm Walrus, said in a phone interview in New York. "The brands that will fit under Alphabet -- YouTube, Android, Nest -- already have a brand awareness, so this will function like a corporate halo."
Google announced in August the creation of a holding company called Alphabet to serve as an umbrella for its many businesses. While its search business, Google, is and will likely remain its largest unit for some time, the company's founders, Larry Page and Serge Brin, wanted to create some separation from its other units, Google Ventures, Google Fiber, Calico and Nest. YouTube will continue to function as a unit of Google as will Android.
By creating Alphabet, the company is better able to make acquisitions or start new businesses such as developing a driver-less car, building the "connected home" or funding the work of geneticists, and molecular biologists at Calico to extend human life without such ventures being confused with its search engine.
"The single brand Google can't hold multiple positions in the public's mind," Vann Graves, Chief Creative Officer at creative agency Fancy Rhino, said in a phone interview from Chattanooga, Tenn. "Alphabet actually can help it to differentiate its many parts. without jeopardizing Google's own name recognition."
That's much different than what Philip Morris did in 2000 when the cigarette maker changed its name to Altria Group (MO - Get Report) (sounds like altruistic) to distance the company from decades of covering up the health hazards of smoking. Altria, though, continued to operate its cigarette business under the name of PhilipMorrisUSA.
Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) took a similar route in 1999 when it changed the name of Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, removing the the word "fried" from its name, as public consciousness about eating well went mainstream.
Ultimately, the public's consciousness remains with a company's best known brands. In the case of Alphabet that will be Google just as Altria isn't nearly as well known as its highest-profile brands, Marlboro and L&M. Over time, Alphabet is likely to win acceptance and recognition of its own.
"People do become accustomed to names, the more widely that they're used and applied," Graves said. "The word Google was just a word for a very large number, but now everyone around the world knows it as a search engine. Alphabet is likely to become known as a house of brands similar to Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) ."
When the new owners of the merged Bell Atlantic and GTE announced in 2000 that it would be known as Verizon (VZ) , there was a lot of head shaking. For one, the name dropped the word "Bell" which had long been associated with the telephone. Secondly, the name was a fabrication, a creation of brand marketers combining "veritas," Latin for truth, with the notion of "horizon," a future filled with possibilities.
Some 15 years later, no one blinks at the sound of Verizon -- it's the phone company, Webster said.
"It just goes to show that if you put lots of money behind them, even the worst names in the world can become household names," he said. "But I don't see Google putting any money behind Alphabet. It will be more like Altria, investors will understand it whereas consumers won't know."