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Skyscaping – Vanity Branding for a New Generation

The other day I “Google Earthed” the beautiful 30 acre Google Headquarters in Mountain View California. They have a great campus, big and architecturally pleasing, but what they don’t have is skyscaping – and that surprises me.

Last week I had my guys use flagstones to spell out our company name in a large grass picnic area we have out front. The letters are 10’ tall, and look like any other flagstone walkway from ground level, but the next time the satellites take an image for Google Earth (GE), our company will be visible for the red stones against the green grass. I’m considering ordering white foam letters that I can attach to the flat black roof of our warehouse for the same reason.

Skyscaping may seem a little gimmicky, and unlikely to be a useful advertising tool yet, but consider this: 10 years ago no one reading this had access to aerial images of the entire world. Today, we all do, and the image quality is improving every year. Millions of people use Google Earth for directions (instead of a two-dimensional map) and millions more also use GE ‘just to look at things because it’s so danged cool.’

Users looking for my building will notice the skyscaping from space, and so will those looking at anything near my location. As they look more closely, they’ll realize that the name I had spelled out in the lawn was put there just for them. That’s quite a connection with a potential customer.

I was thinking that I might skyscape (or Googlescape if you prefer,) my own house, too. I could easily find room to spell out SNEED with bushes, or stones, so that anyone GE-ing directions to my place will have no doubt about its location.

I do have some advice for those who wish to do this. Orient the words or Logos so that the top is north, since the default view is the same as a map – the top is north.

I wondered if there’s any commercial application to this novelty, so I sent a letter to Google. I suggested that they could actually photo shop any company’s logo to the roof of their building, or to a vacant field they own.  They would of course charge for this, but it may end up less expensive to do than foam lettering. Maybe someone savvier knows if they could photo shop an arrangement of bushes to spell out words, but that still wouldn’t be as cool as planning years in advance to have a living sign that even God could see.

Most users of GE look at the airport of a travel destination. Cities could have “Welcome to Denver” installed in the space between runways. Or, they could rent out the space to a hotel chain for their logo.

Might there be a day when messages are painted along the edges of highways? Might homeowners spell out their name in flagstone pavers in their driveway? From the ground it would be hard to see, but on a satellite image it would look pretty cool. I’ll be looking for you.

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