This company is 7 years old, has a similar turnover to Starbucks but has a much bigger brand awareness. According to Business Week Google appeared at #24 in a listing of the top 100 global brands, just below Nescafe(?!?!?!) but above Dell, Sony, Budweiser, Oracle, Ford and Nike.
I've just finished reading 'The Google Story' by David Vise. Not as in depth as I would have liked but interesting all the same. A fascinating insight into the company, it's executives and it's culture. I'm just astounded by it's growth. From a small business created in an office at Standford to a multi billion dollar corporation that accounts for 60% of all searches in the US.
What does it do? The assumption is that it's just a search engine and that's true, but a search engine with a different approach. It doesn't just index the Internet but ranks pages. In essence they are ranked by how many other site link to them and the importance of the linking site. For example a link to your site by the New York Times would rank higher than a link by a random blog such as this. For a really detailed explanation check out Wikipedia.
There are also some great fan sites out there, especially in honour of the logo. Click here for the official Google logo home page.