SmoothSpan Blog

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What Shape is Your Mission Statement? Tag Clouds for Marketing and Meaning…

Posted by Bob Warfield on August 13, 2007

Recently I needed to set up some meetings with folks to introduce them to SmoothSpan.  These are folks who won’t necessarily drop everything and come running, so I wanted to do something a bit unusual to tease them and get their interest flowing.  I hit on the idea of sending them a Tag Cloud that describes SmoothSpan’s business.  Sorry, I can’t share the cloud with you yet, we’re still very much in stealth, but I got to thinking about the idea and the reaction people had to it and decided it might just be a helpful tool for various marketing purposes.

If you’re wondering what a Tag Cloud is, there’s one over to the left that shows the relative importance of various tags to the different posts in this blog.  As I write this, the Tag Cloud says we’re heavy on SaaS, Partnering, and business, but there are a lot of other interesting tidbits there as well.  I started with this blog’s Tag Cloud (lest you think the posts here are random!) and augmented it by hand to represent all of the different thoughts I wanted people to have as they learn about SmoothSpan.

Tag Clouds can be created in a lot of ways.  All they need is a list of terms and a weight associated with the term.  Examples include: frequency of tag use in articles, frequency of word or term use in a body of text, popularity of search terms, articles visited, or the like.

Think about uses for tag clouds in your own business.  Here are some ideas:

1.       To introduce folks to your company in a hip Web 2.0 sort of way.

2.       Have you created the Tag Cloud that describes your business or product?  Do your employees, investors, and customers agree that this is what you do?  If not, you may need to work harder on your messaging.

3.       Put one on the back of your business cards.  You weren’t using the back for anything, anyway, were you?

4.       Put one at the bottom of your emails.

5.       Use them to check whether your blog, company web site, or PR is on target with the messaging you hope for.

6.       Use them to test market concepts without narrowing things down to too much detail.  I’m envisioning some sort of online survey where folks see different versions of a Tag Cloud that they rate.

7.       Use it as a more abstract and less contrived mission statement.  Done write, it lets the reader decide which part of your proposition most interests them.  This latter process, BTW, is an essential part of any successful sales cycle: you have to figure out which problem the customer could solve with you product.

8.       Consider one as a navigation tool for your corporate web site.

9.   How about using a Tag Cloud to tell your skills, career, and interests at a glance?

When we come out of stealth, I would expect our Blog’s Tag Cloud to rapidly converge until it matches the corporate mission Tag Cloud I just created.  Meanwhile, if you want to make your own Tag Cloud, it’s pretty easy to do with Excel and Microsoft Word.  I’ll walk you through it.

First, list the terms or tags you want to use in a column.  Any order will do.  Next, assign a weight to each term, and sort the terms into ascending order from lowest to highest weight.  Now, decide how many buckets you want to divide your terms into.  Each bucket gets successively bolder formatting.  I left the first bucket in the default font, bolded the second, bumped up the type size on the third, bolded and bumped the type size on the fourth, and so on.  You can also use colors to either emphasize more, or to create a second dimension.  I used 4 colors in my mission blog:

Red:  SaaS/Enterprise/Business

Blue:  Web 2.0/Social Networking

Green:  Technology

Yellow-Orange:  User Experience/Simplicity/Design Sense/Visuals

There are tools out there on the Internet that will also create tag clouds by analyzing text.  I haven’t evaluated any of them, so I won’t recommend, but perhaps someone will submit a comment to this post with some ideas along those lines.

Have fun, Tag Clouds are a useful tool for getting across Marketing and Meaning!

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5 Responses to “What Shape is Your Mission Statement? Tag Clouds for Marketing and Meaning…”

  1. benkepes said

    Interesting thoughts – to be honest developing tag clouds is surprisingly similar as an activity to creating personae. Basically it’s developing the attributes that most clearly define what you do (or conversely who your customer is and hence what we need to do to fulfil his/her wishes)

  2. cmcbrown said

    thanks for visiting & commenting at my blog. I tried using Zoom Clouds last spring, but found out it messed up my template when viewed from a Mac. I didn’t realize it for about a week until someone emailed me about it. What cloud tag generator do you recommend? is still under renovations. I found some ways to do it and put it into CSS but it’s more programming than I’m comfortable with.

    Chris Brown
    Branding & Marketing blog

  3. smoothspan said

    Chris, I built my tag cloud by hand in a spreadsheet as described because I was hand crafting a cloud rather than measuring the concepts of an existing work. I would love to hear from others what Tag Cloud generator they recommend.

    Benkepes: You’re spot on. The Tag Cloud just makes the exercise that much more real. I’m a visual thinker, so it speaks to me, even if Tag Clouds are largely words.

  4. songzunhuang said

    Gents, here’s an interesting tool I found. ( You can paste in a bunch of text copied from your webpage, mission statement, or whatever and it’ll generate a tag cloud for you. It’s quick and dirty, but it’ll give you some insight.

    Now, how you make the hyperlinks from the words execute searches in your blog, etc. that’ll take sme more investigation.

  5. smoothspan said

    Guy Kawasaki has an interesting post on data visualizations:

    It’s also interesting to consider whether these visualizations may be linked to personality traits and learning styles. In other words, different tools for presenting the same information might be stronger or weaker for different people. See my post on Web 2.0 personality types:



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