You, Your Brand and Brand Tags. Should you care?


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Brand Tags crowd sourcing what people think of brands
BrandTags: Crowd Sourcing what people think of brands

I first came across and wrote about the Brand Tags site way back in 2008. The site has recently been taken over and launched again by a company called Solve Media. And so it is worth a revisit and discussion about if it has any use to marketers, advertisers and branding practitioners at all.

BrandTags “crowd sources” what a brand stands for among the general population.
The BrandTags site was an early pioneer of the “crowd sourcing” idea online, and it invited people to add a word or expression about brands they knew – and had a view about.
The data was collected by showing a brand logo and inviting the viewer to type in what they brand meant to them. They collected all the data and build a profile of brands using a cloud map where the bigger the word, the more people had submitted that word.
The site has millions of words inputted since then, or “tags” as they call them. So now there is a fairly large and representative view of what a brand is likely to mean to the broader population.

The site seems to be more USA biased and most of the brands in there are either USA or global brands that have a large USA profile.
So when I looked for some European brands they were not in the database. However, most of the major global brands appear and you can get a sense of what they stand for – but remember the USA bias in view.

A good starting point and inspiration for getting brand insight.
I am not sure how scientific or validated the system would be seen by experts from a statistics and market research perspective.
However, it does provide a good starting point for marketers, agencies and blogger/ commentators to get a feel for what a brand stands for among the general population.
The system does not identify who is inputting the “tags” and so you cannot get a read on how a brand is seen by a specific target.

A brand only stands for what people are saying, not what you wish.
The premise they have is that no matter what you are trying to make a brand stand for. It only stands for what people feedback and say you stand for.
It does provide, despite the likely statistical and market research limitations, a great starting insight and perspective at no cost for what brand stand for. I think this is very helpful as you look to develop brand positioning, competitive analysis and as inspiration for identifying differentiation.

What can BrandTags help marketers and agencies with?

#1: It can highlight crowded brand association territory.
I think this is one of the most helpful aspects of the brand tags tool. By searching key words like “trust” or “reliable” and other words that are always popular key words in most brand positioning statements, you find these are over used and linked to multitudes of brands.

#2: It can highlight areas of differentiation, or where a brand owns something alone.
By searching the “tags” section, it can also show where only one brand is associated with a key word. Owning a key word as a brand can be a very key strategic opportunity, and I have written about this before as consumers tend to only really be able to remember one key thing about your brand – and the more you focus on that and own that the more differentiated and clearer you will be.
For example, when I searched some brands I had worked on or competed with I found:
– Only DOVE was associated with the word SOFTNESS
– Only NEUTROGENA was associated with the word ACNE
– Only OLAY was associated with the word AGELESS
– Only GILLETTE was associated with the word SHAVING

#3: It can highlight what a company or brand is linked to overall
For example, if you search “Johnson & Johnson” you will see most of the associations are linked to Baby.

Summary of BrandTags usefulness
BrandTags is a fun way to spend some time if you are involved in the world of marketing and communication. It is not entirely scientific, but has millions of inputs on what people think of brands. Words that they spontaneously associate with brands around them. It also can be used to provide stimulus and a broad perspective on brands and what they stand for. Especially when you are developing new positioning, updating strategy and areas to focus.
Of course, you are likely to need more structured exploration and validation. But this is an easy to use, fun and free tool. Worth playing around with!

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TRUSTED is a word associated with multitudes of brands
Johnson & Johnson is mostly associated with baby related words
GENTLE is associated with a few brands

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Bembridge
30 years of marketing experience managing and building brands globally for companies like Unilever and Johnson & Johnson, as a Global Vice President Global Marketing. Now a freelance marketing consultant, blogger and podcaster. The podcast has won awards in the European Podcast Awards (Business) the last 2 years.


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