Managing reputations

Type ‘liar’ or ‘failure’ into the Google search box and see whose personal Internet sites are right at the top of the organic search listing for each of these terms. Whatever your own personal views of these two individuals, a quick scan of what’s on their websites will not find any occurrences of either of ‘liar’ or ‘failure’. So, how did their sites acquire these top rankings?

The power of internet links, that’s how. So many people have linked to these sites using one of these terms that the Google algorithm has ranked the sites as number one for them. While this fact conveys an important message to both these folk, it has a broader implication for anyone interested in IT governance and intellectual capital management.

An organization’s brand and brand name are of part of its intellectual property and have a fundamental importance to its long term competitive success. Where an audience’s experience of the brand diverges sharply from the brand’s values, the Internet provides them with a means of telling everyone what they really think. They’ll use it – and once a site has acquired that sort of ranking on the basis of direct links, the only way to delink is to de-commission the URL – and that’s a potentially expensive step, particularly for any organization that uses its URL as part of its identity.

If ever there was a reason for brand integrity, there you have it.