After the week from hell – the redesigned Google Reader, Gmail's makeover and a hastily pulled Gmail app for iOS, Google could sure use a winner.
Luckily, so far the rollout of Google+ brand pages hasn't hit any hitches. Among the first brands to set up their profiles are The Muppets, Good Morning America, WWE, Burberry, Pepsi and Toyota, and as they're made available over the next 24 hours, expect to see the number of companies on there jump exponentially. (Add Idealog to your circles, if you're so inclined.)
"Google+ has always been a place for real-life sharing, and Google+ Pages is no exception. After all: behind every page (or storefront, or four-door sedan) is a passionate group of individuals, and we think you should able to connect with them too. For you and me, this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour. Google+ pages give life to everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most.
"For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello."
Users will be able to add brands' Google+ pages to their own circles, and vice versa. However, pages can't follow individuals unless that person is already following the brand.
Google+ pages will show up on search results, and a new feature called Direct Connect takes that a step further. Search for anything preceded by a + (eg +Angry Birds) and Google will direct you to the appropriate Google+ profile – and if you want, even set things up so they'll be automatically added to your circles.