brand integrity is integral


In this world, building a trustworthy and worthwhile brand can be like a minefield. Building the strongest brand possible for your business, or the re-branding of your existing one is no easy task. Every action that is taken has to have the big picture in mind, and be focused on your target audience. Today people are cynical due to many businesses operating without morals and ethics, this is why disclosure is key. If you don’t disclose it can cause your customer base to lose faith in you and your company. Here are some pitfalls to avoid that can jeopardize your hard-won trust, or cost you thousands of dollars in FTC fines.

Disclose that you are accepting pay for endorsements

While navigating the online world of blogging, you will find that people out there want to cash in on your customer base. While allowing guest bloggers on your site can be a strategic triumph if the person is qualified and has something to offer, it can also do the exact opposite if there is compensation involved. In fact, it is against FTC rulings to accept money or goods in exchange for positive reviews.

Nothing can sap a loyal customer/reader’s trust faster than finding out that you are being underhanded about a product or service. Realize that anything you say may be checked out by those who are reading it and consider if the short financial gain is worth more than having happy customers. This isn’t to say that you can’t accept money to offer any review, just that there can be no expectation of it being positive if you don’t like what you see. When in doubt, consider what your readership will think, and disclose.

Do not ask for money to write about a product

This is also against FTC guidelines and technically falls under the category of “payola”. In addition that turns your review into an advertisement. Your readership is advertised to every minute of every day. If they decide to read your blog, it is because it is offering them some form of respite or information that they find valuable. The minute they begin to suspect that you are advertising to them, you run the risk of losing their trust.

That being said, you can curb the effects by not being sneaky. If you are being paid to write about a product, disclose it to your audience. Your readership will understand that you have bills to pay. The biggest thing here is trust, and once you lose that it is impossible to get back.

Asking for money to undo something you did

If you ripped a business or company and it went viral, it is absolutely immoral and illegal to ask that company for payment to delete the posting. This is extortion, and is a federal offense. If what you write has hit a nerve, then you must have done something right. Your readers will appreciate your honesty and integrity.

If you can avoid these pitfalls, it will save you from mountains of trouble and lost reputation. When it comes to protecting the integrity of your brand, just use common sense. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want done to you, and consider your brand image at all times. When in doubt disclose.

randy bowdent | f | g+



10 thoughts on “brand integrity is integral

  1. Great post, Randy, and so pertinent to today’s marketplace, as native advertising and social influence begins to play a bigger part.

    One thing bloggers (and the brands they work with) need to remember is they don’t even have to be in the same country as the online mandates for disclosure.

    If you accept any kind of sponsorship from a business in either the U.S. or the U.K., you need to disclose, even if you live in Canada, or France, or Australia, etc.

    The FTC (as you say) covers U.S. companies and need to be disclosed. The ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) covers the same policies in the U.K., and so bloggers in Canada writing for U.K. companies need to disclose.

    Best policy? if in doubt, disclose everything that was not your original thought.

  2. You can’t build a successful long term business without integrity. As you’ve pointed out, once you stomp on a customers trust, you’ve lost them forever.

    If you’re a social web-based business, there are even greater ramifications… word on bad business practices travels fast, and bad reputation will follow you everywhere you go. Forever.

    Common sense is a difficult commodity to come by for lot’s of folks…

    Happy Friday, Randy! ; )

  3. Hi Randy,

    Really interesting post. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line. In newspapers they get people to advertise but give them free editorial. They don’t tell anyone they do this, how can they get away with it?

    • Hi Ian and thanks for dropping in. Coming from a newspaper family I have to take exception with non-disclosure in that profession. In the States the news has always kept a wall up from advertising and any “native” editorial always carries an *advertisement* designation. Always a bit crafty but if you look in the border it is lingering there. With new rule change it should become much more front and center. Is there a difference in this in Ireland?

  4. Pingback: Brand Integrity Is Integral

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