Brand integrity is how consumers perceive your company, and it’s more important today than ever before.
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Do you happen to recall the infamous Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? He’s an immensely talented but surly chef, known throughout the city for his delicious soups, steely glare, and rigid rules of engagement. Should a patron fail to follow his mandated etiquette, they would be ordered out of his establishment with a vehement, “No soup for you!”
Some websites are much like an encounter with that cantankerous chef.
We’ve all experienced it.
A search link that leads to content ransomed behind a full-screen takeover demanding an email address. The ad for a free trial that requires a credit card up front. Insanely long Terms of Service that obscurely grants permission to share personal information across an entire marketing network. Intense legal documents requiring a PhD to comprehend briefly mentioning just how difficult it will be to cancel.
These unethical tactics are called dark patterns. Dark patterns are designs carefully crafted to mislead you into taking unintended actions, like buying insurance with a purchase or agreeing to recurring charges. They are also brand integrity killers.
Integrity is not something you typically get a second chance to build, so make sure those handling your brand maintain ethical standards when interacting with your audience. If you do, you will gain the trust of loyal followers, and they just might convince their friends to do the same.
82 percent of consumers in the United States said they stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer experience.Small Business Trends, April 2020
Here are some tips for avoiding the shadows:
Use clear language.
Forms should never word questions in a way that, at first glance asks one thing, but when read carefully means something completely different.
Let the user decide.
Check boxes and radio buttons should not be pre-selected in hopes that the user will neglect to uncheck them. Subscriptions to newsletters and items that will be added to the user’s shopping cart should be made clear.
Loose lips sink ships.
Don’t glean more information from the user than is absolutely necessary. (This is called Privacy Zuckering, named after Facebook’s founder.)
Keep it clean.
Designs that distract users from important details should be avoided. Give them plenty of room to easily read and understand the content without misdirection.
Focus on the positive.
Avoid language that is meant to guilt a user into an action. Instead, win your user over with positive points and kindness.
Use clear calls to action.
Avoid ads disguised as content to obtain click-throughs. If a user clicks on something in your site that isn’t what it appears to be, not only will they lose confidence in your brand’s integrity, but they may leave your site for good.
The truth will set you free.
If you offer a free trial, it shouldn’t come with strings and hoops to jump through. If you are only offering a window of time to cancel without penalty, present it as a satisfaction guarantee instead.
Keep things simple.
Put cancellation information where it can be easily found and avoid making the process difficult. If users are treated well during cancellation, there is a much better chance they will return.
Spam belongs in a can.
Gaining access to a user’s contact list and then sending unsolicited emails to that list is about as welcome as an IRS agent at the door. This is also a great way to get your brand black listed.
Here at NerdBrand, we follow the Golden Rule—for our employees, our clients, and their site visitors. If you want to know more about Brand integrity, or you are in the market for a new or redesigned website, give us a call.
No shenanigans. We promise.
If you liked this article check out Mitch’s on “Pretty is easy, smart is hard.” about Great Advertising.