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    Brands, Red Gorillas, and Cold Rain

    The new website Brandtoys has introduced what they are claiming is the world's first visualization engine to assess and compare consumer sentiment and the online buzz of brands. The visualization takes the shape of a whimsical character whose physical attributes, (color, shape, size of ears, size of legs, and even surrounding climate), are determined by Brandtoys using source data from consumer surveys and from mining mentions of the brand on the social web.

    The idea being, for example, the more online chatter and buzz about a given brand, that brand's character will be portrayed with large ears; if the online sentiment surrounding a brand skews negative, (think BP), then it will be 'raining' on the brand's character.

    To get a better idea of how this visualization works, take a look at the character for BP, pretty much a globally maligned brand stemming from 2010's Gulf Oil Spill and BP's subsequent handling of the crisis:


    Sort of what you'd expect - BP is characterized as a petulant, angry figure with an aggressive stance, and in the end appears totally unsympathetic or approachable. Persistent (and deserved) negative sentiment about BP produces the rain clouds above our little friend's head.

    Big deal, you may think, who needs a funny character to know that most people don't think all that highly of BP at the moment. But where the Brandtoys approach to the presentation of consumer and online sentiment data is more compelling is in the comparison of competing or adjacent brands (and their derived characters). Then the differences seem to be a bit more subtle and interesting.

    Have a look at the comparison of three similar brands - Miller Lite, Budweiser, and Heineken:


    While the character manifestations of each character are broadly similar, there are a few noticeable and striking differences, the Miller Lite character has much larger ears, signifying a high level of chatter and conversation about the brand; the Budweiser character's eyes are shut, indicating relatively low scores for brand 'charisma'. For a branding or marketing professional, 'seeing' these difference portrayed in this manner is got to be far more resonant than scanning a column of figures on a spreadsheet.

    But beyond being a cool, quirky, and kind of fun site to play around on (I dare you to not spend 5 or 10 minutes creating your own characters), the Brandtoys team emphasizes that the characters are backed by solid and ample hard data and analysis. The larger point to me, and why I decided to write about this site today, is that it reinforces the potential that we have in presenting data in new and innovative ways, ways that can help tell a story, that can enlighten and engage an audience, and are simply a heck of a lot more interesting than another spreadsheet or Powerpoint presentation.

    We have lots and lots of data. You business leaders are likely overwhelmed with the endless barrage of messages they receive each day. 

    What can you do to make your message and the information you are trying to communicate stand out?

    Maybe presenting your analysis with the assistance of a goofy red gorilla is not such a bad idea after all.


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    References (4)

    References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
    • Response
      You are right that character will be made in 10 to 12 minutes that is very useful to explain without posting any text.
    • Response
    • Response
      The more online jabber and buzz about a given brand, that brand's character will be depicted with huge ears; if the online notion encompassing a brand skews negative, think BP, at that point it will be
    • Response

    Reader Comments (4)

    It's always a fine line between usability and being innovative. I notice that there are trends, for example, for a while it seemed like every corporate/ big name web site design was vanilla, following the mainstream, and then website design started to break out into more creative avenues. The key is to stay relevant. It takes a very good designer to design something that's usable, aesthetically pleasing, & innovative. And I agree that we should keep pushing the envelope!

    May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Brogee

    Super observations Jennifer, and I agree with you for sure. I like to think that creativity in the presentation of information does not have to be an 'either-or' between normal and expected and innovative; rather it can be a 'Yes, and', where traditional and in some cases required formats and methods are accompanied by new and interesting approaches. Thanks very much for your comments.

    May 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterSteve

    How are you? Ace post, for a banana bunch of reasons (pun intended, if poor!) I think you hit on the 2 key things nicely here: comparison and entertainment. There is a huge move in lots of interesting places to move beyond the recognition that we’re data obsessed and data overwhelmed and make the obvious deduction that the way out or forward here is simply to make the interpretation of that data have a point, a point that can then be given an entertaining twist.

    This I’ve seen in underground manifestos in education for example, where the authors dare academics to wake up to open digital tribe building methods and actually embrace the notion – which ironically was the original intent of learning – to make it entertaining. Manifesto here – http://manifesto.humanities.ucla.edu/2009/05/29/the-digital-humanities-manifesto-20/

    Of course, this has so much cross over. Every publication – as your always entertaining blog shows – has an audience. And every audience – especially now – wants to be entertained. I don’t mean in the dumbed down fill it full of pointless jokes way. I mean in using experiential sound and visuals and making it fundamentally social as both a way of making the object come alive as well as make the knowledge transfer a joy. I mean, as Brandtoys have done, to make data accessible and fun without losing the message – actually, strengthening the message.

    As a similar challenge to the humanities manifesto, I recently dared that most dull of publications – the annual company report – to wake up and smell the X Factor coffee -http://www.hubcapdigital.com/latest-hubcap-news/blog/item/65-the-future-of-company-reports?-entertainment

    This also applies – I think - to work. Our emails are publications. As are our sales presentations and brochures, our websites. Marketing – entertaining – our customers is fine. But if the goal is to educate and persuade, the same rules apply internally. It should be a golden rule of all companies – especially managers – to make the job entertaining, to sell it. I can think of no better way to up engagement at work by making the job fun. After all, think how engaged people are outside of work with finding ways to entertain themselves.

    Again, not in the silly everyone come to work dressed as animals way. Unless they are goofy red gorillas.

    May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Shaw


    January 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commentertom

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