Web Site Reveals What Brands Mean to Us Companies spend millions trying to control the meaning of their brands. But Noah Brier argues that the true meaning of a brand comes from the sum of everything everyone thinks about it. His new Web site, Brand Tags, tests that theory, one logo at a time.
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Web Site Reveals What Brands Mean to Us

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Web Site Reveals What Brands Mean to Us

Web Site Reveals What Brands Mean to Us

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MIKE PESCA, host:

While you were out picnicking yesterday in your designer clothes and your fancy bottled waters, or maybe just your old Levis and cheap beer, the Bryant Park Project was in here wondering what it all means.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Web editor Laura Conaway is here in studio with a report from the frontiers of brand consciousness. Hey, Laura.

LAURA CONAWAY: Good morning. How are you?

MARTIN: Fine.

CONAWAY: I brought this guy, Ian Chillag, with me today.

IAN CHILLAG: Good morning.

MARTIN: We've met him before.

CONAWAY: Ian just did this slideshow about this cool new site called Brand Tags.

CHILLAG: Yeah. There's this guy named Noah Brier. He's a strategist for this marketing firm down in Soho, here in the city. So, he thinks about brands a lot, and one night it came to him.

Mr. NOAH BRIER (Marketing Strategist, Naked Communications): I had this idea that, if you asked enough people what a brand is, and then made it into a tag cloud, that I'd probably have a pretty good peak into, kind of, what the actual perception of this brand was.

CHILLAG: So he built this site where you go on and where you see the logo of a company, and you are supposed to say the first thing that comes into your head. So you see like, the Coca-Cola logo, and maybe you think "refreshing," or "thirsty," or "red," or "Pepsi." Some people think "Pepsi."

PESCA: Polar bear.

CHILLAG: Yeah, polar bear, and then you can click through and you see a tag cloud, which is this picture of every word, every phrase, that everybody who has been on the site has said about Coca-Cola, and you know, the words are ranked, the size of the font, by how many people said it. So a lot of people said...

CONWAY: Like cities on a map, in a way.

CHILLAG: What's that?

CONWAY: It looks like cities on a map.

CHILLAG: Yeah, yeah. So like "refreshing" is huge and "polar bear" is tiny, but some people have said it, and so, by the sort of, you know, aggregate, you get a picture of what the world thinks of Coca-Cola.

MARTIN: Interesting.

CHILLAG: Yeah. It's pretty neat stuff.

PESCA: Can you do it with a politician?

CHILLAG: Well, he hasn't done it with a politician, but people do - you know, there are things up there, like the Carlisle Group and, you know...

PESCA: Yeah, OK, that's a brand.

CHILLAG: And people use the site, in a way, also to kind of make protests. So you get the sense that people aren't saying the first thing that comes into their mind, but they're saying something that they want to say about a company. Like, you look at Microsoft, and the tag "evil" is really big. You know, people probably think "computer" first, but they want to say that Microsoft is evil.

CONWAY: (Unintelligible) is evil.

CHILLAG: Right.

CONWAY: Slideshow's up. Ian, thank you for doing it.

CHILLAG: Sure. My pleasure.

MARTIN: Cool, go to that. Check out the Brand Tag slideshow, and much, much more on our new website, npr.org/bryantpark. Thanks, you guys.

CONWAY: Thank you.

MARTIN: Coming up on the show, two farmers fed up with gas prices give up their tractors and switch to mules. We'll talk with them next. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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