London, UK – 8th November 2006: Magus, the web content engineering company, today released findings from recent research, which shows that global companies are incorrectly implementing more than 80% of their own brand guidelines. This is despite these organisations following generally accepted best practice methodologies.

Research on the websites of several major global corporations with a multi-market web presence, found a high degree of divergence from brand guidelines in all areas. Findings include:

* On average, 23% of the web and brand standards identified were being contravened on every page.
* Customers were confronted with up to seven standards errors on every single page.

Three main categories of error were identified:

* Design and presentation level
Highly visible infringements, such as the incorrect use of: company logos, colours, fonts, imagery, and layout.
* Content level
Incorrect use of: headings, title tags, formatting, and of company naming conventions for products, reports and other assets.
* Code level
Broken links, invalid table structures, missing/inappropriate ALT and meta-tags, and deep structural errors in site navigation (in one case, users were linked to an 'adult' website instead of a careers portal).

"These findings demonstrate the real problems faced by global organisations in maintaining a consistent brand identity across a large web presence," said Simon Lande, CEO and founder of Magus. "Erosion of standards undermines trust, and ultimately devalues brand equity."

This sentiment is echoed by brand guru Marcel Knobil, Chairperson of Creative & Commercial and founder of Superbrands: "Brand consistency is really important in most areas of marketing and commerce. To me, it's all about gaining trust. Companies spend millions on their brands, so it stands to reason that they wouldn't want it fragmented on the web."

Aimed squarely at addressing these issues, Magus also announced today the launch of ActiveStandards, the industry's first dedicated online brand standards monitoring and analysis solution for global multi-site, multi-editor web operations.

* ActiveStandards is a hosted application which works alongside a company's content management system (CMS). It takes corporate brand guidelines, often difficult to enforce in the dynamic environment of the web, and turns them into a powerful, automated solution for total online brand control.
* ActiveStandards also verifies compliance with best practice web standards (such as search engine optimisation, legal, usability and accessibility requirements) and creates asset-management reports to make sure content is relevant and up-to-date.

Magus initially piloted ActiveStandards as a solution for Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, with a turnover of nearly €40 billion, and over 200,000 employees in more than 100 countries. In January 2005, Unilever began to roll out its new corporate identity across its global web presence. It soon became apparent that a traditional best practice approach (comprehensive web editor training; 22-hours-a-day/5-days-a-week help desk; detailed standards manual; and a state-of-the-art content management system), was not enough to maintain its online brand standards.

"We saw that standards were starting to slip," said Tim Godbehere, Communications Director at Unilever. "Before every site went live we would check it, and then take any corrective action required. But identification of errors was a purely manual process. We quickly realised that unless we had a large team of people dedicated to this, we simply would not be able to keep on top of the situation.

"With 30 sites live, and many more in the pipeline, we knew we needed an automated solution to help preserve our standards. We needed an early-warning system."

As no such application existed, Unilever turned to Magus to create one. Magus worked closely with Unilever to crystallise their initial requirement, developing a solution that gave a global view of compliance. ActiveStandards has since become an essential component of the company's website management strategy.

"It's the perfect solution for global companies who need to make sure their brand is consistent online," said Tim Godbehere. "It focuses on fault identification and resolution, helps site managers worldwide, and makes sure the Unilever brand is consistent across our global web presence."

"Organisations are inadvertently violating their own brand standards online," states Simon Lande "but until now there has been no way for companies to visualise the problem and systematically benchmark their sites against their own corporate standards. This product has the potential to save companies millions of pounds in brand equity, and literally thousands of employee hours per year on their web operations."

In October 2006, implementation of ActiveStandards was initiated by Shell, the global group of energy and petrochemicals companies. "Large companies are increasingly moving towards global frameworks that aim to deliver a consistent brand identity and experience," said Simon Lande. "ActiveStandards empowers companies moving in this direction. It is the total online standards solution and will transform the way organisations with a global web presence maintain brand consistency online. It will make sure they are on-brand, on-line, every time."

- Ends -

About Magus:

Founded by CEO Simon Lande in 1993, Magus specialises in innovative web content engineering solutions. Magus supports many of the world's leading organisations by designing elegant and effective solutions to today's toughest online challenges. Magus's UK and international client portfolio includes Unilever, AstraZeneca, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, General Electric, Lagardère, Arcelor, GlaxoSmithKline, and Shell. Magus also manages the UK Web Archive on behalf of a consortium headed by the British Library, and counts five of the six largest UK law firms among its clients.

Magus's solutions are all based around precision delivery of content from the web, and include:

* ActiveStandards, which helps companies stay on-brand, on-line by tracking and managing corporate web standards compliance, worldwide.
* RemoteSearch, the ultimate multi-site search engine, providing integrated search frameworks for enterprise websites.
* CrucialInformation, the current awareness service for companies with a challenging information brief, delivering premium-quality, strategic intelligence from the web and syndicated services.

About the research carried out by Magus:

In August 2006, Magus carried out research on the global websites of five major corporations with a multi-market web presence. In total, these corporations represented approximately 800 websites comprising 250,000 pages.

The aim of the research was to investigate how effective accepted best practice is at delivering a consistent group web presence. The research showed a high degree of divergence from brand guidelines and standards in all areas.

* Less than 20% of brand standards were correctly implemented group wide
* 1 to 7 standards errors for every single page
* 23% of the web and brand standards identified were broken on over 50% of pages of some websites
* 14% of the web and brand standards identified were broken on 100% of pages of some websites

Specific examples of errors included:

* A local recruitment website which was inadvertently sending its visitors to an 'adult' website
* An ex-director whose picture was still appearing in a market website
* A website which was still displaying the company's old logo, 3 years after re-branding
* The CSS-formatted website whose CSS file did not work with browsers other than Internet Explorer
* Misleading and outdated product information

For further information please contact:

Karen Bergin
The Reputation Consultancy
Tel: +44 1628 633544
Mobile: + 44 8702 882754

Laura Adams
Tel: +44 20 7019 4700

Published on: 12:00AM on 8th November 2006