A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

Playing Tag with Brands

Tagging is a relatively easy way to organize data.  For instance, people who use bookmarking sites will write a few works related to the link that they are saving to help them remember what that link is about.  However, this is not the only use of tagging.

I learned about how Noah Brier, a marketing man, is experimenting with tagging in relation to branding and public relations.  NPR's Bryant Park Project featured his brand tagging siteBrand Tags – today.

nbc_brandtags When you visit Brand Tags it presents you with a brand's logo.  Below the logo is a text box for you to enter the first word(s) that come to your mind.  You can then go check individual brand pages to see tag clouds for all the words that people have entered in for that brand.

For instance, on the NBC tag cloud, you'll see (as of this writing) that the the tags "30 rock," "friends," and "office" are really big, and that means that many people typed those words in for tags.  In this case, these tags make sense since they reference popular shows on the network.

The potential of this site is that it can help reveal what people really think about a brand.  We're talking more than just positive and negative metrics.

However, there are some important things to consider when checking out this site.  First, I doubt that everyone types in the very first thing that enters their mind.  Further, they could enter in a highly biased word.  Second, this site is brand new, and I barely heard about it.  I wonder who else hasn't heard of this.  Probably most of the population. 

So, check out the site since it is interesting, but don't make too many conclusions since it is so new and the audience so far is probably not representative of the general population. However, having said that, I think that this use of tagging has potential.

BusinessWeek.com Updates 3 Year Old Social Media Story

BusinessWeek magazine must understand how to use web analytical data, at least a little.  In its June 2, 2008 cover story titled "Beyond Blogs," Stephen Baker and Heather Green reveal that the magazine's web site got a lot of traffic from Google to its May 2, 2005 cover story titled "Blogs Will Change Your Business" since the article was the number one result for the keyword "blogs business."

Clearly, at least in this case, the magazine pays attention to different traffic sources to their site, and it acted upon this data. 

Needless to say, much has changed in the blogosphere and now greater social media landscape that has made the 2005 story outdated.  For instance, the article heavily featured Steve Rubel and his Micro Persuasion blog.  Back then his blog was an authoritative resource for using emerging social media technology to influence the general public.  In fact, it helped him get a job at the PR giant Edelman & Associates directing digital media work from an office overlooking Central Park in New York City.  Not bad.  However, he doesn't blog as much as he did back in 2005, and although he still holds a lot of clout in this realm, he attributes his lower frequency of blogging now to the fact that megablogs that actually hire full-time staffers like TechCrunch reign now.  Further, in 2005 blogging was the big deal, but now a story like this must include so much more of social media.

businessweek As the magazine realized that this article was no longer relevant to those searching for "blogs business," it decided to place an editor's note on the original article page and send visitors to a new page with revised content (for instance, the titled is now "Social Media Will Change Your Business") and provided annotated notes with updates from experts — see the image for this post to see how these updates appear on the site.  It also used it blog to get feedback from what readers felt and wanted in the revised article.

I think that using web analytics data to inspire an update to the article is brilliant for a couple of reasons.  First, updating the article will keep people who visit the site from the search engines, since they really cannot take a look at the publication date of the article and move on to other search results in hopes of finding something more current.  Second, this helps BusinessWeek assert itself as a great resource of updated information.  Of course, I doubt that the magazine updates every article, but at least we know that it pays some attention to traffic data.

Does anyone else know of other news organizations acting in similar ways?

Times Reader – A Different Approach

As we previously posted in a study on American newspapers and their use of the internet, the formatting of newspapers and the internet don't really go hand in hand. It has been a struggle for the folks at McClatchy and the New York Times Company to develop profitable methods as the internet sprawl continues its onward march.

Let me introduce the NY Times Reader, a desktop-based web application designed for reading the times on your laptop or tablet PC. It made its initial windows release in 2007, but just today the NYT digital production team announced the macintosh release (beta). (more…)

All of a Country's Problems Solved by a New Logo

The Starbucks logo switch that had Christian groups up in arms was only the first in a line of logo switches to make the Starbucks coffee brand appeal as a luxury item.  Next in line: Ethiopia.


John McCain, Strike Three

Tricked you with the headline up there, didn’t I? Yes I did. There’s nothing wrong with John McCain’s third redesign. It’s just bluer than before with more right angles and stars. It is a nice upgrade from the last version which was not so bad either. McCain’s team seems to have Obama-ed this version up just a bit with the blues, the positive tone, the structure …in fact, look at this (click on image to see full picture).


It’s not a direct rip off by any stretch, but the McCain design team has taken a look at the competition and let’s leave it at that. I would (and have) done the same. Or worse. Here are some first impressions on the latest effort:

The silver star logo remains the branding for McCain and that Republican sans serif font style is right there with it. They’ve now added the url below it to be helpful. Or forceful. Something.

Like most modern political sites, the main focus is on a centrally located media section. McCain’s site is no different and does a nice job of incorporating this into the design of the home page. The video that clearly needs to be pushed is a Four Year Vision piece that once clicked reveals a vision of 2013 where everything is squared away or something. The baritone voice-over made me sleepy but I was then revived by clicking on the colorful Cuban Independence link and asked to sign a petition, which I respectfully refused as I’m very busy today.

To the left of the big dance number is a rubic’s cube of banner ads that magically switch every 5 seconds, creating; 1) a cascading vertical selection of issues to click on and, 2) my left eye to twitch.

The right hand side is the usual Join the Team plea, but nicely and very cleanly laid out. The Action Items (I call them action items because I’m in the biz) below are pleasantly low key and not even numbered. When did that staple of political site design die out? Was I on vacation? It doesn’t matter, let’s move down to the sections no one reads, but everyone needs to put in their own site. News and Upcoming Events are given a lot of real estate and not gunked-up with any icons or thumbnails.

The page finishes nicely with some thumbnails of recent photos that expand smoothly within the browser window.

Overall a pretty decent overhaul. I appreciate that you can cruise through this site very quickly. Except for the crazy moving blocks on the left, the layout allows me to scan the page in seconds and decide where I want to go. This can’t be said of the last 2 McCain designs. On a side note I really enjoy the Parade of Stars background image they’ve chosen. I feel like Lou Rawls might be back there somewhere.