Coming to SEO from a marketing background, I immediately noticed conflict between SEO and branding.
When building a brand, a positioning statement is usually drawn up outlining its values and core message. Words are used very carefully in order to portray what exactly it is that the brand stands for. This message is then spread to the world using different marketing channels, such as the internet.
However, if SEO is important to your brand, then good marketing does not appear to equal success on the internet channel in terms of SEO. There are barriers prevent your precisely chosen message being spread across your site and throughout the internet. According to the principles of SEO this will mean there will be a plethora of duplicate content out there to negatively affect your rankings.
I believe there is a way around this though. Google thinks about these things and, using common sense, usually introduces answers to support its overall goal – to return the expected result (most relevant and highest quality). A high quality, popular site cannot help if identical content is spattered across the web. Therefore, Google determines which content is the original by comparing the amount of one way links.
My conclusion then is this: if you go out into the web and spread your message by only using reciprocal links to increase your rankings, then you’d better consider diluting/altering your carefully chosen words in order to avoid duplicate content penalties. If you really believe in the value of your brand message then have the confidence to resist simply relying on a link swapping strategy to get you up the rankings.