Companies spend anything from a few hundred to several millions each year on marketing their products to the masses.
Virtually none of them talk about how ordinary their product is, or how expensive it is compared on a like-for-like basis with competing products.
As consumers, we almost expect the adjectives extolling the virtues of 'Product X' or 'Service Y', rather than the brutal, honest truth about their ordinariness.
Under-promising and over-delivering is often not seen as a viable option for many businesses, as screaming headlines with seemingly irresistible offers from bitter rivals can often capture the imagination and wallets of 'cash rich, time poor' buyers...and make the difference between survival or failure.
So they 'pimp their prose', 'accentuate their positives' and apply a healthy dose of lipstick on their pig of a product.
Of course, the clever marketers know very well not to tell an outright lie. The risks are far too high these days. What many appear to be doing these days is stretching the truth to breaking point - you know who you are - and staying on the right side of the ethical divide (just) and just under the radar of advertising regulators.
Ultimately - and in my humble view - the modern consumer generally accepts and is savvy about the extent of 'weasel words' used in advertising campaigns, and can filter out the more fantastical claims and vivid imagery used to push everything from acne cream and air fresheners to vintage champagne and luxury cars.
Where people are less accepting is a brand not living up to its hype.
If you're brand owner concerned about preserving your reputation, check out the eight things that can hurt you below.
Content marketing has gained popularity among businesses in recent years as a 'win-win' approach to gaining customers and credibility by providing informative, educational and sometimes entertaining information, using a variety of methods including infographics, videos, articles and ebooks.
Unlike traditional marketing which has a primary focus on selling, content marketing is based on creation, communication and sharing, with the aim of building awareness and loyalty.
With modern consumers wise and resistant to the tricks and tactics of advertisers, new thinking was needed to encourage people to engage with brands without feeling 'sold to' and under pressure to buy. This is where content marketing's subtlety is winning.
Apart from increasing sales, content marketing can be used as a great way to build a reputation, as you can see in the illustration below.
The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings report has been published, with Harvard University - despite the recent, public 'schooling' of two eminent economists by a student - in first place, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of California, Berkeley.
The list of 100 of 'the world's most powerful global university brands' is admittedly highly subjective, with judgement provided by senior published academics invited to give their opinion on elite educational institutions.
That said, the reputation of a university is being seen as a significant factor in its ability to access funds and attract and retain the best staff and students.
Louise Simpson, director of the World 100 Reputation Network of top-ranked universities says: “Reputation is like a supertanker: it’s pretty hard to turn around unless you do something very wrong."
In response to the rankings, Mark Sudbury, director of communications at University College London (ranked 20th) said: “Reputation is becoming less of a nebulous concept for universities. It is now recognized as a key component in decisions affecting future success.”
However, a sterling reputation and a huge cash pile - Harvard's endowment is $32 billion, for example - won't be enough to protect universities from the increasing popularity and rapid rise of MOOCs - massive open online courses.
Maybe that's why they're actively involved in funding and contributing educational content to technology companies like edX (a joint venture between MIT and Harvard) and Coursera which boast 3.2 million users.
With courses drawn from a range of highly reputable universities, I wonder how they would rank on the list?
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.