The Wall Street Journal reports on the creation of the Christmas Doodle this year at Google. By Doodle, we mean the creative modifications to the company logo that appear on the company's main search page to celebrate certain holidays, milestones, achievements, etc. According to the paper, this year's holiday doodle involved the work of a team people, putting in approximately 250 hours over a period of six months.
Now, I happen to find the Google Doodles highly creative. They definitely enhance the company's brand image as an innovative, creative, and fun company. How much value do they have though? Does the company really need to put this much time and effort into something as simple as their holiday doodle? What do shareholders think of these types of uses of their resources? While I don't think there's a clear-cut answer to these questions, I do think that even firms with huge profits and plentiful resources have to be careful about how they choose to use resources. One has to at least question the value of these types of efforts. When the questioning stops, then you know that a firm has become undisciplined about its creative efforts.
Of course, the Google Doodle represents a relatively small use of resources. I'm asking these questions, drawing on this example, to really point to the much larger resource allocation decisions firms often make during times of plenty. These resource decisions involve things such as shiny new corporate offices and putting the corporate name on a sports stadium. As one CEO once told me, "If you see a company building a very expensive new corporate office and putting its name on a ballpark, you might want to think about shorting the stock."