Have you checked out http://www.brandtags.net/? It is a very interesting concept where you are shown a logo, and then are asked to type in a word or phrase that describes the brand. There is also a feature where you can see a "word cloud" showing you the most popular words used to describe each brand. Now, certainly this is a biased sample of the world because the site has become popular with bloggers and online social media folks, but I still found it interesting to see how different brands were perceived.
Here are some of words associated with different brands, along with some of my own comments.
Facebook: College, Friends, Social - Facebook would love to shed the college image as they are targeting a broader audience now. This shows that perceptions of your brand tend to lag reality.
Google: Search, Everything, Awesome, Evil - I think that sums it up nicely. I find it interesting that the words advertising and software were barely used, even though they make all of their money from ads and have lots of software used by millions of people, like Gmail and Google Docs.
Microsoft: Windows, Software, Monopoly, Evil, Computer - Similar to Google, I am surprised to see that no one used the word "Internet", even though Internet Explorer is the most popular browser and Microsoft has a top 5 search engine and a huge web presence.
Twitter: Annoying, Pointless, Useless, Stupid - Wow. I was surprised by this given that I would have expected the audience using Brand Tags to be Twitter users. But, this does seem to be how a lot of people view Twitter. (If you want to waste time with this annoying service, you can follow me - Mike Volpe on Twitter.)
Second Life: Virtual, Lame, Losers, Nerd - I guess this is not the time to give out my Second Life username? :)
Audi: Expensive, Olympics - I am sure they would love to get rid of the "Olympics" perception, but it shows you that the 5 rings of the Olympics have a lot of brand that carries over to Audi even though Audi has four rings in a different arrangement.
Best Buy: Cheap, Electronics - They would probably want to be known for good service or advice, rather than cheap, because it is hard to compete on price in the electronics business. But at least the biggest words were not negative.
Starbucks: Expensive, Overpriced, Burnt, Coffee - I am not a Starbucks fan either. But I still go there. Is it possible people go there, but not for the coffee? I use Starbucks as a poor man's conference room, to meet entrepreneurs and other people all the time.
What 3-4 words would you want people to use to describe your brand? What do you think they would actually say? What are you doing to make it more likely that they will describe the brand you want to be? Or, what are you doing to make sure you actually are the brand that people describe?
Originally published May 15, 2008 11:08:00 AM, updated October 01 2019