Internet Branding: Being Authentic

What you do and how you do it is more important that what you say.
We have known that intuitively all of our lives.
That's why we have phrases like "He talks a mean game", "Put up or shut up", "Practice What You Preach" or "All Talk".
Parents talk to children about setting a good example for others.
Celebrities must consider their behavior as role models, whether they accept the responsibility or not (Google "Charles Barkley and role model").
When what we say is in sync with what we do, we become authentic.
People respond favorably to authentic people whose defining characteristics are extraordinary and positive.
We want to be around them.
We all can think of exceptional people who live or lived authentically.
Occasionally, celebrities and politicians provide good examples of authenticity.
People like Jimmy Stewart, Catherine Hepburn, Whoppi Goldberg, John Wayne, Jane Fonda, Pat Tillman or Dr.
Martin Luther King.
What we like is that we can count on their exceptional qualities, their consistency.
What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)! While companies are not people, the principle remains the same, we gravitate toward those that operate authentically in an excellent and positive manner.
Most companies continue to follow traditional branding advice: if you say what you want people to think about your company with enough frequency, customers will believe it (i.
Volvo = Safety).
This advice is sound as long as the company can back it up! In the late 1990's, the Web gave people an opportunity to experience company behavior on demand, with ease.
As a result, many companies struggle with this axiom.
In the 1980's, Sprint spent close to a billion dollars on those "pin drop" commercials.
The word they wanted to own in the customers' minds - "Clarity".
By the way, their fiber optic network did bring exceptional clarity to our everyday telephone communication.
Now, roll forward to the mid-90's.
Sprint had several large divisions: Long-Distance, Local Telephone, Broadband, Mobile, etc.
Each began building websites to maximize the opportunity for their division.
In some cases, a division would attempt to use their website to sell the products/services of another division (e.
the long-distance division created Web pages to sell the mobile division's products/services - a.
Sprint PCS).
This led to massive confusion.
Sprint customers expected clarity, but the experience betrayed the brand position.
I know because I was there! Every company is creating unspoken messages, however, they may not be aware of it.
Sprint's behavior, from their retail stores to flaws in their mobile network to their websites, created unintentional, inconsistent messages.
The remedy is to act with clarity in every way possible.
We are extremely proud of and honored to work with an exceptional and authentic company in Arizona.
The company is Vantage Mobility.
They perform van conversions for people with disabilities.
Their conversions are sanctioned and supported by Ford, Chrysler, Dodge and Honda.
When you enter their headquarters, you'll notice the door is wider than normal and the lack of thresholds (improving accessibility for people in wheelchairs).
You'll also notice a significant percentage of their workforce is disabled.
Last year, we completed a relaunch/revitalization of their website: http://www.
During the design phase, their VP of Sales and Marketing, Mark Roberts, recommended that we create an application which would allow people to install a Vantage Mobility icon on their desktop to serve as a quick link to the website.
The purpose was to make it more accessible for people who have difficulty typing.
The point: everything they do is with the single purpose of making our world more accessible to those with disabilities.
Vantage Mobility is authentic.
Is your company authentic?
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