If anyone thinks there is room for exaggeration in advertising anymore, think again.

Truth and authenticity are the true currency of branding in a web 2.0 world.

Back in 1999 some guys got together and wrote a little thing called the “Cluetrain Manifesto” which built a good foundation for future marketers. My favorite one of their theses is number 12:

the cluetrain manifesto
There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

And thanks to web 2.0 and search engines, there is no escaping the scrutiny of not just the press, but hundreds or thousands of empowered web citizens.

Photo of the Psystar open computer mac cloneIf you need an example, look at the recently announced Mac clone being offered by a no-name company called Psytar and what happens when you try to pose as legit without building a credible reputation first:

So exactly who or what is Psystar? We dig a little.. | Technology | Guardian Unlimited
But we thought we’d look further, because if the company’s going to make these big claims about what it can do, why, that’s interesting; but what sort of company is behind it?

The Psystar site talks a lot. OK….

The post opens the door, the comments nail it to the jam. Everything from real estate records to previous sites to business licenses- uncovered by netizens. If you thought political wonks were like rabid attack dogs going after raw meat, look at what the Macintosh Zealots do to a potential competitor for their beloved Apple.

The lesson to be learned is before making a bold move into a market, one must prove ones chops with a proper introduction to the big league. Introductions are more important than ever, with a gradual build to your “big idea.”

Had Psystar prepared the field by seeding key advocates and trusted sources within the Macintosh community before unveiling their game changing clone, they may have had a chance at being taken seriously. Now, they’ll be lucky to get any orders at all- and no chance at a second chance should something go wrong with any of the first units (if they ship).

Better mousetraps can’t be sprung without proper preparation, and poser brands don’t stand a chance at hiding behind any value proposition, until tested and proven.

Time will quickly tell if Psystar is a poser, but, until then, they’ve already dug themselves a pretty deep hole.