What you see in the image below is probably the most precious real estate on all the web: the white space below Google’s search bar*. And Google is clearly super careful about how it uses it.
Lately, they’ve been adding some very simple links there—to share stories about how the company is helping the world.
These stories are really well done. They’re told well. Crucially they’re not so much about Google. They’re much more about something inherently interesting to their audience. Google assumes the role of an actor in a larger story. It makes for far more compelling reading than the usual rah-rah corporate chest beating. You might call this type of storytelling humble bragging vs. out-and-out bragging. You have to brag a little bit, else what’s the point? But be mellow about it.
They’re also chosen (curated, if you want to use a fancy word) well. Imagine how many internal projects at Google are competing to have their stories told. A lot. If those in charge of choosing stories didn’t use a strong filter with audience interest as a key criterion, these stories would be fascinating (and an ego boost) to those in them and not so interesting to those reading them.
A lot of companies, like Google, engage in what is often called corporate social responsibility. Not that many do such a great job telling the stories of the good they do. I’ll share a couple I’ve seen with you. Both are great. And being Google, they don’t have to worry about how to get people to see these: they own the real estate we all walk by every day.
The hi-res future of anti-pollution tech
One story is called The hi-res future of anti-pollution tech / Street View cars map the way to cleaner air, block by block. The images were what grabbed me first. They’re very journalistic. They don’t feature Google people. They mostly feature the people Google is helping—with one photo of an on-the-ground Google person leading the work — not a senior exec. There are some graphics that show off Google tech—but they’re designed to educate and inspire, not sell.
Bringing students’ voices to life through technology
The second story is called Bringing students’ voices to life through technology / 826 Valencia and Google team up to amplify imagination. It’s also a blog post with some great embedded interactive pieces that the kids made. It’s worth looking for sure. It also has a video about the project that I’ll embed here.
Plus this cool gif.
What did you think?
*Neighborhoods change all the time. As mobile devices, apps and social media (even voice search) have come to dominate our lives, the real estate above is losing some of its value in the broader digital world. But still!
BTW, BKW does a lot of storytelling for clients about the amazing things they do to help people. We also do a lot of helping companies figure out how to get people to see their stuff (when they don’t own the white space underneath the search bar). If you need help with either or both, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.