Adam T. Sutton

Stave Off Attacks on Your Brand

August 22nd, 2008

When customers talk about your brand online, those conversations last for a while. They sit in article comments, in forums and on profile pages, waiting to be spidered by search engines. Every one of those enduring comments is a piece of mini-media that either builds your brand’s credibility or stains it.

Pete Blackshaw, Executive VP, Digital Strategic Services, Nielsen Online, told me how companies can maintain their brand’s credibility and keep consumer conversations about the brand positive. Basically, a credible brand has to:

1. Instill trust in the consumer

2. Genuinely strive to fulfill missions and uphold values

3. Be transparent and easy to learn about

4. Listen to consumers’ suggestions and online conversations

5. Respond to consumer complaints, suggestions and conversations

6. Have its self-image supported by simple online research

Not long after talking to Pete, I happened across an article from the Providence Phoenix, a free local magazine, that fit right into the topic. The article pointed out what they described as a bit of hypocrisy in a local newspaper, The Providence Journal.

Here’s the article’s lead:

“In April, The Providence Journal strongly endorsed reducing use of plastic bags, but the newspaper continues to use more than 100,000 plastic bags a day.”

Pete’s model says this is bad for the ProJo’s brand. The ProJo said it values an environmentally-conscious efforts that, in fact, it is not following. That is an open opportunity for their critics to wag their fingers online and stain their credibility.

The ProJo doesn’t say it is an environmental leader. But the lesson for brands is clear: If you’re going to take a stand on an issue, follow through. Your detractors can have a field day on you if you don’t.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Online Marketing, Social Networking Evangelism Community Tags: ,

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