It’s a Small World After All*

June 30, 2008
The Brand Alphabet by k

As someone who miserably failed the ’90s boardgame Adverteasing, I cannot tell you with 100 percent accuracy which corporation adopted the slogan “when it rains, it pours.” However, I can assure you that my first reactions to top brands are apparently very similar to yours.

Through a brand association experiment called “brand tags,” Noah Brier has collected more than 1.1 million one-word associations with national and international brands. The generated tag clouds show our shared brand associations. While I’m sure Target is thrilled to be tied to “bullseye,” “awesome” and “value,” American Airlines (and its competitors, to be fair) cannot be overjoyed with the masses who said “bankrupt,” “crash” and “expensive.”

While many brand associations are expected, it’s intriguing to see cultural references shine through.  Whole Foods’ #1 word? Whole Paycheck. Hilton Hotels’ main references? Unfavorably related to Paris, not the chain.

A recent feature includes “brand battles” with a leaderboard showing which brands are killing the competition (so to speak) in head-on matches.

Noah says “The basic idea of this site is that a brand exists entirely in people’s heads.” While that may be true, I can’t help but think that Coca-Cola** must feel their branding dollars were well-spent as “classic” and “refreshing” appeared as two of the top associations.

What observations did you draw from brand tags?

* The only brand where I didn’t share an association? My first thought for Disney was “It’s a small world after all.” But I blame that on a disastrous experience with their Disneyland ride.

** Coca-Cola is a client of Fast Horse; I noted their brand solely as it seemed to be the most obvious tie between branding dollars and people’s associations.