I happened to stumble upon a blog post by Jennifer Rice on “Love/Hate brand scores". She did a thoroughly unscientific comparison of common brands based on querying Google for “I love Foo” and “I hate Foo” (similar to Googlefight, but taking the idea a bit further). I’ve recomputed her results and included some brands and products of interest to us.

Here’s the original Love/Hate brand score table, with all figures recomputed based on new searches (partly so I can understand exactly how she computed her results, and partly to get a consistent baseline for adding Firefox et.al. ); I’ve left the brands in the same order as in Rice’s table for ease of comparison.

BrandHateLoveL/H ScoreBuzz Index
Linux539 3,71032,700 34,2009.2229 250

(Note that the figures for Wal-Mart combine the results of searches for “wal-mart” and “walmart.” Also, a more complete survey would add all the brands in the BusinessWeek Top 100 brands list, or at least all the brands in the top ten; Rice apparently didn’t have time for that, and neither do I.)

The L/H Score for a brand is simply the number of “I love” results for that brand divided by the number of “I hate” references; thus figures over 1.0 indicate relatively well-loved brands, while figures under 1.0 indicate relatively-hated brands.

The Buzz Index is more complicated; it’s computed by adding the “I love” and “I hate” results for a given brand, dividing that total by the average number of love/hate results for all brands, and then expressing the score as a percentage; thus Buzz Index values over 100 indicate high levels of buzz/passion (one way or the other), while scores under 100 indicate low levels of buzz. (I have no idea why Rice didn’t normalize the Buzz Index to 1.0 as she did the L/H Score.)

Here are the scores for our favorite Internet desktop software products along with their primary competition, ranked from most loved to most hated:

BrandHateLoveL/H ScoreBuzz Index

(Note that the figures for IE combine the results of searches for “IE,” “MSIE,” “Internet Explorer,” and “Microsoft Internet Explorer.” Note also that per a suggestion from Laurent Duperval I searched for “I love Opera” and “I hate Opera” in combination with the word “browser”; this lessens potential false positives from pages discussing opera the art form. Finally, in computing the Buzz Indexs I used the same average number of results used in computing the scores in the previous table.)

Of the limited number of brands and products surveyed, here are the most-loved brands/products (counting only those with more than 1,000 total results returned):

  1. Firefox
  2. Linux Google
  3. Google Target
  4. Target Linux
  5. Ikea Opera

(If I had counted all brands/products then Camino and Thunderbird would have occupied the number 3 and 4 slots, but I felt that including them was unfair given that they also had by far the lowest number of results returned.)

Here are the most hated brands/products (again, counting only those with over 1,000 results):

  1. Comcast
  2. IE
  3. Microsoft
  4. Outlook
  5. McDonalds/Wal-Mart (tie)

Finally, here are the brands/products listed above about which people on the net are most passionate and/or which are generating the most buzz:

  1. Firefox
  2. Google
  3. Linux
  4. Microsoft
  5. Apple

and those with the least buzz/passion:

  1. Camino
  2. Thunderbird
  3. Safari
  4. Opera/Outlook/Comcast (tie)
  5. Ikea

The bottom line: People on the net really love Firefox. Of course, these results are heavily affected by sample bias, like all net-based surveys, and we’ll have to see to what extent passionate love and major buzz gets translated into market share over time. But in any case this is a testament to both the quality of the product and the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. (As for Thunderbird and Camino, we love you too, it’s just that people don’t get as excited about either mail clients or Mac browsers.)

UPDATED: Originally I claimed (based on a comment posted to Jennifer Rice’s blog) that Rice wasn’t using quotes when doing her queries; in fact she did, I just wasn’t reading closely. My apologies.

In any case recomputing her results uncovered a strange phenomenon: The number of Google results for “I love Firefox” is at 93,600 results today, compared to 72,800 yesterday. Is it possible that Google just finished another round of web indexing and added a chunk of 20K new “I love Firefox” references? Or is there something else going on? None of the other brands/products show this behavior.

In recomparing my results and Rice’s I also noticed that I apparently included a too-low value for “I hate Linux” references. I’ve changed the Linux scores based on a new search, and my values are now closer to Rice’s. (For consistency with my prior results I didn’t change the value of 14,524 that I used as the average number of results when computing the Buzz Index.) This dropped Linux to number 4 on the “most-loved” list.

Other changes: I added entries for Opera, and renamed “Passion Score” to “Buzz Index” for consistency with Rice.