More evidence that brand matters on the Internet -- maybe more so than in the non-digital realm.
Participants in this study ranked the performance of brand name search engines Yahoo! and Google higher than the not-really-a-brand-MSN Live and an unbranded search engine. All, however, returned the same results.
Interestingly, Yahoo! ranked highest, even through many in the study group used Google regularly. I wonder if that has to do with Yahoo!'s traditionally heavier advertising and marketing. Yahoo! has done quite a bit of branding advertising; I can't recall any from Google, although it'd be hard to find an internet user that doesn't "google."
Whatever factors influence the choice of Yahoo! over Google, the implication of the study is nurturing a trusted, positive brand image online is money and time well-spent.
Positive brand identification = Loyal Audience. Audience = $$$.
I've seen some research -- and I'd like to know more -- that TV station Web sites have higher credibility ratings than newspaper Web sites. Obviously brand "feelings" are at work at some level. What I don't know is what factors are influencing the perception.