I'm willing to bet that a lot of the money that marketing departments spend on messaging is wasted. When we look at brands, we don't listen to what they say. We watch what they do.
Why do we feel like Apple is innovative? Because they've launched paradigm shifting products again and again. Along the road they've shipped some losers. All innovators do. And yes, their messaging, "Think Different" aligned with their behavior, but it wasn't the messaging that sent us the message. It was the action.
The tragedy of Microsoft's failure to innovate with Internet Explorer isn't that they've lost money (Internet Explorer is free). It's the negative impact on their brand. If a web developer thinks about IE, they feel the kind of pain that can only come from hundreds of hours of fighting with websites that work in every browser except Internet Explorer. When they think "Microsoft" they think "old," "slow," "buggy," and "broken." Messaging can't fix this, and Microsoft knows that, which is why they're now pouring resources back into IE. The only question that remains is whether or not it's too late to repair the damage.
We humans trust our intuition; the same intuition, that has been built out of a painful, evolutionary, trial-and-error process since the beginning of the human race. This intuition has taught us that what people do is a more accurate indication of their character than what they say. It's just too easy to trick someone with words.
So brands, listen up. Your actions speak louder than words.
Related Link: How great leaders inspire action