Brands are the Stories We Tell

This neat persona/profile tool by the clever folks over at MIT Media Labs allows you to visually construct your own persona. After you enter your name, it goes off and scours the web for any trace of “you”, sorting and categorising as it goes. Of course, there are bound to be errors as well as insights. Imagine, for example, if you lived in Campbelltown and your name was Seth Godin. You are bound to be swamped in the results by THE Seth Godin. But this tool does, nevertheless, yield some impressive information. In the end you end up with something that resembles Dr Who’s famous intergalactic scarf.

Persona Segments for Gavin HeatonBut what I liked most about this, was not the pretty, segmented ribbon. I loved the way that the “Persona Machine” captured story snippets and analysed them. It captured the stories that OTHERS have told about me – providing insight not into the things I write and my personal interests, but also capturing some sense of the context in which I live – as created by others.

Stories about Gavin Heaton

So then I thought, what happens if we apply this to brands? What stories would flash by as the Persona Machine trawled the web for, say, Coca-Cola? Some of the snippets I noticed include “the history of coca-cola is a story of special moments”, or “Mr Dealer: The 1912 advertising campaign for coca cola is on”.

Brand Persona Ribbon for Coca-Cola

But while the stories were most interesting on the individual level, it was the aggregated story – the brand persona ribbon – that most intrigued me for Coca-Cola. “Management”, “sports” and “fashion” segment strongly, with “politics” and “aggression” also appearing. It makes me wonder what the detail is underlying this analysis. It makes me think there is work to do on even the most famous of brands. And if that is the case – what appears in your brand persona ribbon?

6 thoughts on “Brands are the Stories We Tell

  1. Whoa! Brilliant find Gavin thanks for that! I am really enjoying all the ways data is being visualized currently and how it makes us feel being able to see a whole picture as a snapshot as opposed to a half remembered moving annual total of our actions.
    Inspirational as always – thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Hey Gavin, thanks for this, a really clever use of the MIT thing. I think online content analysis could be the soon become the mainstay of research. Tools like the MIT analysis will take the place of brand image tracking, whilst sentiment analysis tools ( take the place of consumer insights research. They all need a bit of fine tuning but things like that seem to happen pretty fast nowadays…

  3. Thanks Tim, I had missed that! There are some excellent tools in that lineup. I would love to get my hands on Sysomos – mostly for curiosity’s sake – but I can imagine researchers would get a lot out of it!

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