Corporate Eye

Google Zeitgeist 2012 – Scarce on Brands but Big on Emotion

google ipadThe Google Zeitgeist 2012 has been released and reveals the top Google searches across the world throughout the past year.

The list of the top trending searches (defined as “search queries with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011”) in 2012 is heavy on people and tragedies but short on brands. In fact, just two brands or branded products made it on the top 10 list — Apple’s iPad 3 and the Diablo 3 video game.

Top 10 Trending Searches in 2012

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. Hurricane Sandy
  4. iPad 3
  5. Diablo 3
  6. Kate Middleton
  7. Olympics 2012
  8. Amanda Todd
  9. Michael Clarke Duncan
  10. BBB12

Similarly, only two branded products made it on the list of the top 10 trending image searches in 2012 according to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist — Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Minecraft video game.

Top 10 Trending Image Searches in 2012

  1. One Direction
  2. Selena Gomez
  3. iPhone 5
  4. Megan Fox
  5. Rihanna
  6. Justin Bieber
  7. Harry Styles
  8. Minecraft
  9. Nicki Minaj
  10. Katy Perry

Things start to get interesting in the Google Zeitgeist 2012 list of the top trending consumer electronics searches where mobile devices dominated. Apple branded products made up three of the top 10 consumer electronics searches followed by Samsung with two of the top 10 searches in this category.

Top 10 Consumer Electronics Searches

  1. iPad 3
  2. Samsung Galaxy S III
  3. iPad Mini
  4. Nexus 7
  5. Galaxy Note 2
  6. PlayStation
  7. iPad 4
  8. Microsoft Surface
  9. Kindle Fire
  10. Nokia Lumia 920

Google Turns Search Trends into an Emotional Branding Opportunity

Google provides perfect proof that with some creative thinking, emotions can be tied to just about any brand in any industry. Google’s television ads over the past couple of years are great examples as is the Google Zeitgeist 2012 video below. Who said search engines can’t make you feel happy, inspired, sad, hopeful, and more? Check out the video below to see for yourself.

Curious how the Google Zeitgeist has changed over the years? I wrote about what brands could learn from the Google Zeitgeist in 2009 here on Corporate Eye, and at that time, social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Hi5 dominated the top search lists. Consumers’ interests change faster than ever these days, and watching search trends provides useful insights that can help brands tailor marketing programs which are relevant and timely.

You can review the complete Google Zeitgeist 2012 list or explore specific 2012 search trends by country on the Zeitgeist 2012 website.

Image: Alan Levine

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.