I've meant for some time to link to Brand Tags, a site which asks users to help attach tag clouds to brand names. Users are served a series of brands and asked to enter the first word that comes to mind. The site then collects all the data and displays the results as a tag cloud. You could waste a good hour or two on the site seeing what people think of certain brands (and I have).
It's striking how similarly many people think of some brands, and even more striking to see how the advertising can affect some brands. When served Skyy Vodka, the first word that came to mind was "blue" as I could picture their ads in my head, with large bodies of water, the tall, blue glass bottle. I clicked through to see what other people had tagged the brand, and the largest tag above the fold was indeed "blue".
How successful are some branding campaigns? BMW has managed to attach "ultimate driving machine" to its brand. But the NBA, which has switched from "It's fantastic" to "where __ happens", hasn't really ingrained either in users' minds. The top tag for the NBA seems to be "Michael Jordan" which something about the league's struggles to establish its own identity since his Airness retired.
Here are some other brands and popular tags for them:
American Apparel: hipster, porn, cool, sex, nothing, boring, cheap, clothes
Amazon: awesome, books, buy, cheap, convenient, easy, everything, fast, great, shopping, useful, smile
New Yorker: cartoons, elite, elitist, intellectual, intelligent, magazine, old, pretentious, snob, snooty, sophisticated, stuffy
Microsoft: apple, awesome, bad, big, brother, bill, boring, buggy, computers, crap, crash, evil, empire, gates, huge, lame, monopoly, office, old, pc, shit, software, sucks, windows
Apple: amazing, apple, computers, arrogant, awesome, beautiful, best, bite, clean, computer, cool, creative, cult, design, elegant, elitist, expensive, gay, good, hip, innovation, ipod, love, overpriced, pretentious, simple, sleek, steve jobs, style, trendy, white
Segway: cool, dorky, dumb, expensive, fast, fun, gay, lame, lazy, nerd, scooter, silly, stupid, useless
Techcrunch: ?, arrington, blog, boring, cereal, computer, geek, huh?, nerd, news, no idea, nothing, tech, technology, no idea, what?, who?
Target: affordable, arrow, awesome, better than walmart, bullseye, clean, clothes, cool, design, dog, everything, fun, hip, shopping, store, value
Wal Mart: american, asda, bad, big, cheap, china, crap, everything, evil, exploitation, huge, low prices, redneck, shit, shop, shopping, store, supermarket, white trash
The site also stages brand battles, pitting brands against each other. Here's the leaderboard. Pixar, Adidas, Ferrari, Google, and M&Ms are the top 5. I was glad to see Maxtor at 651, near the bottom. I've had two of their hard drives fail on me in my G5 desktop, and I'll never touch another one of their drives again.