Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Tagging Brands

So far brand tags has been my most successful project to date (or at least fastest pick up). Since letting the world know about it on Friday I’ve gotten over 77,000 tags. It’s also been on the del.icio.us homepage, metafilter and, most recently, Seth Godin gave it a shout out (including many others).

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few lessons, observations and other notes from the weekend:


The first thing I realized was I needed to iterate on the fly. Immediately I realized a few things in the backend weren’t working perfectly and fixed them on the fly. I also added a few features as ideas came in (specifically a game where you guess the brand based on the tags and a search engine to allow you to see all the brands tagged with a specific word. The other thing I did was keep track of where people where coming from so I could filter out tags at some point if I wanted to.


This was another big one, in addition to adding things and making things work a little better was trying to listen to people’s feedback and add both features and logos. A bunch of people asked for an easy way to see all the brands, which I added quite quickly. In addition I’ve gotten a ton of brands from people, which has both made my life easier and helped get the word out further (many people asked for the brands they work for/on and I’m sure they shared the results).

Unfortunate Words

It’s becoming apparent that as more people come, more unfortunate tags are turning up. I had to decide whether to censor pretty early on and decided not to (expect for spam … when one person adds the same word over and over again). This has all been one big experiment and I’m doing the best I can with it, but I can’t do it all. I figure I can always filter things out later if I need to.

Twitter to Get the Word Out

Twitter has been a huge source of traffic for the site. I’m not sure what more to say about that, but it’s been a great way to communicate with people on the fly and let them know as I hit milestones (number of tags, number of brands, etc.)

As the day goes on, I might add some more to this list and in the coming days I will try to go through some of the tags and give some of my thoughts (so far I think my favorite is how many people tagged Beijing 2008 with “tibet”.

Also, any other feedback, suggestions or anything else are welcome. Thanks so much to everyone for making this such a success.

Update (5/12/08): As a side note, I’ve gotten a ton of email as a result of this. If you’ve sent me email for this or anything else over the last week or so and I haven’t responded yet, I apologize.

Update (5/12/08): Wow, been a huge day for the site. Up to 110,000 tags. Links from kottke (a bit of a blogging hero of mine) and ReadWriteWeb. Anyway, thanks again to everyone for the links, emails, twitters, etc.

Update (5/13/08): Just got picked up by Wall Street Journal. Hot damn.

May 12, 2008


  • Eric says:

    Hey Noah – great site! I just came through from Seth G’s link and I know you are going to get flooded with traffic. This is a very cool idea, executed well. Definitely a lot of cool data being collected that is probably valuable to the companies being tagged…

  • Alan Wolk says:

    Noah: I’m kvelling ;)
    This is such a great idea– one of those things that when you first told me about it, I thought “Yes! Brilliant! Why has no one thought of this before?” (I find that the majority of great ideas are also very obvious after -the-fact.)

    Some good learning for companies here for sure. As I mentioned to you earlier, my biggest surprise, given your audience of young(ish) marketing and advertising professionals at how much “Nazi” and “Hitler” still come up for Mercedes and VW. (Ergo, given that audience, “Tibet” and Beijing Olympics surprised me less.)

    I suspect this post will seem quaintly out-of-date in a few weeks as this project takes off. Good job.

  • Stephen says:

    While I’m no marketing fellow, the value of this sort of system is equally high for people who study semiotics, like the great Umberto Eco. I’ve always found the juxtaposition of brands with visceral responses to be a fascinating study. As this grows (and it will–it’s almost a game!) and you’re able to filter responses to only real humans wishing to communicate something, I think the value will only go up. Kudos.

  • Phil Baumann says:


    That’s a sleek, smart way for branding diagnostics obviously.

    But it’s also just plain cool. Nice application that I’m sure could be used for all sorts of other uses. Novel way to use tag clouds.

    You’re very creative. You hit something that’s very hot I think.

    Good job! Keep ’em cranking.

  • Andrea Hill says:

    Love it! I’ve shared it with some coworkers via facebook, so you’ll be seeing some more traffic come that way as well.

    My one challenge with the tag listing is seeing where multi-word tags are divided. It would be useful to have a delimiter or something, otherwise things run together..

    thanks, this is fun!

  • Pam says:

    Noah, this is a brilliant idea that crystallizes a very important principle — thank you! I’ve had fun with it as well as learning stuff.

    Can’t wait to see the search-by-tag function; also it would be neat to be able to see a running total of the number of tags per brand, and whether the proportion of spammy/adolescent tags goes down as more people discover it.

  • Paul Marsden says:

    Hi Noah – great post – I’ve posted a review at http://blog.clickadvisor.com/?p=97

    Ideas to turn up the utility on brandtags

    1) get people to color code their tag based on positive or negative
    2) use Ajax so people see similar tags to prevent replication/typos in cloud
    3) expletive filter

    And if you’re interested in some of the science behind why what you’re doing is so cool – take a look at this

    Keep up the good work!

  • Jinal Shah says:

    Love the idea – love the execution. So simple and brilliant. I’d be curious to see what you learn from it. It would be cool if you could create some sort of visual representation of the data like wefeelfine.org ? Anyways, congratulations!

  • Georgeanne says:

    Hi Noah,

    Great project. Is there a way to find out how many people have tagged a brand? Do you count how many tags there are per brand and how many times each tag is used?

  • Loaf says:

    This project is very interesting — a hardcopy printout of the tags is very enlightening about what is most closely associated with the brand in people’s minds.

    Are most of inputs to your site from the US? Do you have a geographic spread (at least by IP address) of where your votes are coming from?

  • Philip James says:

    Damn Noah – thats some excellent adoption! Very well done sir

  • Anna Z says:

    Great idea, almost fun. You have some sort of bug still that the same brands keep popping up over and over again, even when logged in. I’d fix that (same with the celebs).

    Good luck!

  • Joey Roth says:

    Congrats Noah- this is Good Design for sure!

  • elizabeth says:

    I really love the site! Of course it could use some tweaks to weed out the lousy tags (but that comes with EVERY experiment, survey, you name it–get rid of the outliers) and I think it’s a truly fascinating way of looking at brand perception–please keep it up!

  • elizabeth says:

    P.S.–thanks for the comment on my humble blog–you’re now officially on my blogroll, and I will be spreading the word among my colleagues. :-)

  • Anthony Power says:

    so simple, so right. going to show it in a differentiation class to spark discussion.

    following on from Paul’s comments about color — we use size and color in our clouds to represent frequency and conversion (red is a good producer) (using TV data no less)

    thank you

  • Adam says:

    Love the idea! brilliant noah!

  • justin says:

    Great concept, great execution. You should be proud. Congrats.

  • Adam Kmiec says:

    What makes the project so fascinating is that marketers have been claiming for years that they know how consumers feel about their brands. Yet, when push comes to shove, it becomes clearer and clearer that they don’t. For example, who knew that so many people thought BMW meant ASSHOLE?

  • Sabah says:

    hey noah, saw this on swissmiss and i ended up tagging brands for quite some time. great idea! and awesome dev on it, too!! i can’t wait to see how this evolves.

  • Gavin Heaton says:

    Awesome project, Noah! And good fun to play with.

  • ewa says:

    Hi Noah, I think this project is great and very helpful for people working with brands. I checked some brand’s tags and it seems very true to me :)
    I mentioned Brandtags on my blog in Poland :)

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