Most people gravitate to people with it. There's something to be said for a person you can trust. You know he or she has your back. You know you can call them the middle of the night to ease you out of a tight jam.
How about brand integrity?
Do you have a favorite brand that you know â€œhas your backâ€?
Let's say it's your sponsor. Will it go the extra distance for your website, podcast or digital content?
In this day of $200+ blue jeans - people will buy anything â€“ you can still count on the quality of a pair of Levi's for a helluva lot less money. Sure, they might be made in Mexico, or some other foreign country, but at the end of day a pair of 501s with that little red tab on the back right pocket is still one of the most enduring brands on the market. (And they still fit the best, even for those of us pushing past forty.) It's no accident that they've maintained brand integrity. And they will remain a viable and integral brand long after all the other trendy designers have fallen out of favor.
Toyota didnâ€™t become the top selling automobile in America because their product sucked. They took on the big boys in Detroit and proved that Americans wanted a car that would last more than a few years with minimal repairs. The company knew that Americans longed for an automobile that had integrity.
Recently my company launched a new initiative with the Italian sportswear manufacturer Napapijri. We'd met the GM of marketing earlier in the year and found him to be very forward thinking and respectful of our brand. It certainly was advantageous that we really believed in his brand, too. And that we loved his clothes. Moreover, he understood that the relationship we wanted to build was more than the number of impressions we could deliver on his or our website. He was willing to grow his brand along with ours.
Are we selling out? Becoming a shill for someone else's brand? No, actually weâ€™re creating a very rich relationship. One that understands that the digital advertorial landscape is more than just slapping a banner ad on a website, dumping any old gateway ad on the front of an audio or video podcast, or counting downloads. I think all readers would agree that weâ€™ve moved past those tired initiatives. Podcasts and websites must cultivate creative sponsorship relationships with brands that reinforce the experience of the content. As a result, both brands win. More importantly, the users appreciate this symbiotic relationship and respond accordingly.
Just a few months back we became founding members of a new podcasting community called the Association of Downloadable Media, aka ADM.
Why? Well, my business partner Richard Burns and I decided that it was a group founded on integrity and with noble intentions. A group that would â€œhave our backsâ€ if we needed to understand the digital domainâ€™s rapidly changing landscape and how our brand could effectively navigate that landscape. Weâ€™ve met many of its founding members over the last few years at various digital conferences and expos and decided that their principles and spirit of integrity remained integral to the ethos of the organization. Moreover, the members wanted the same things we did, had the same questions and concerns, and were willing to share their experiences and/or information with like-minded individuals. Let's face it, we were all children in this new digital world, full of wide-eyed wonder, looking to grow up together.
Keeping that integrity intact and moving forward will be the challenge of ADM, but I am certain that the group of men and women who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to build this organization will maintain that essential component.
I would wager the ADM will resonate long after other organizations fall off the digital highway. Or perhaps we reach the enviable position of being the only organization, one with a serviceable and dynamic template that will have staying power for years to come.
In this ever-expanding global medium, having staying power is paramount. Working together without boundaries, whether geographical or ideological, is essential.
Maintaining integrity is vital.
Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at the William Morris Agency!