Noah Brier, a 26-year-old Web entrepreneur and marketer, launched a side project called Brand Tags on Friday, May 9, 2008. The site displays a logo – like Quaker or Pabst – and visitors use one word to describe the brand. For example, the Levi's brand is deemed “classic,” “cool,” or “American.”
That weekend, a few marketing blogs mentioned the site, and Brier kept e-mailing friends about testing the program. Then, on Sunday night, MetaFilter dropped a mention. Brand Tags exploded by Monday.
The success – 1.3 million tags and 3 million page views since May 12 – overwhelmed Brier.
“Brands are something people talk about,” he says. “But when things [like Brand Tags] are successful, you're not always sure why.”
The site itself is just one of the side projects Brier has maintained since he launched his blog, noahbrier.com, a few months after his 2004 graduation from NYU, where he studied media, culture, and postmodernism.
After graduation, he was a staff writer at American Demographics. The title was sold a few months later, thus ending his stint there, but he found something quickly.
Noah has always tinkered with launching Web sites, such as howmuchdoesitbuy.com and holycrapfacts.com, but it is his meet-up group Likemind (co-founded with PSFK's Piers Fawkes) that earned him recognition as a connector in marketing circles. The one-Friday-a-month meeting of “likeminded individuals,” which began in New York, now has satellite meet-ups in 50-plus cities worldwide.
Building the sites has pushed Brier into the role of entrepreneur. Most of his work overlaps, like the posts to noahbrier.com that also go to the site of his current firm, The Barbarian Group, but the money-making side of being a Web entrepreneur still hasn't kicked in.
“I like making things, coming up with ideas,” says Brier. “I wrote the code for Brand Tags. [Chasing] ad dollars and VCs, that's less fun.”
At the end of June, he was named head of planning and strategy at Barbarian, a Boston-based interactive marketing firm. Although the Brand Tags launch occurred while Brier and the firm were in talks, Brier's existing online presence certainly helped him. “I'd like to think I can speak geek and marketing,” he says.
Rick Webb, COO and cofounder at Barbarian, met Brier through Benjamin Palmer, CEO and cofounder of the firm. When the two saw a need for a planning and strategy department, Brier came right to mind. “It was a one-man race,” says Webb.
It was Brier's knowledge of the industry, as well as the ins and outs of planning and strategy, that made him a candidate for the job, but his passion for the Web, his coding ability, and his entrepreneurial spirit sealed the deal, adds Webb.
Maintaining each blog and side project, along with remaining on top of what other blogs and bloggers are doing, still remains a daily task for Brier. He also spends time returning users' e-mails because it was the same community that gave something like Brand Tags its start. Brier says 90% of the logos that appear on Brand Tags were e-mailed from users, so he makes the effort to connect with those who are in touch with him.
“It's exciting that people find things I've put on the Internet,” he says.
The Barbarian Group, head of planning and strategy
Feb. 2007-June 2008
Naked Communications, strategist
Dec. 2004-February 2007
Renegade, creative lead