Online brand reputation management can be perilous & the internet is littered with failures and own goals. Here’s a recent example.
Swedish Drupal specialists NodeOne recently ran a banner campaign advertising the benefits of using Drupal over several proprietary CMS offerings. One of those compared, EpiServer, responded with a “cease and desist” letter from their lawyers, claiming that the comparison was misleading and calling on NodeOne to stop their advertising campaign. NodeOne took legal advice & then responded by publishing EpiServer’s letter (& helpfully an English translation).
EpiServer, regardless of the merits or otherwise of NodeOne’s comparison, scored several own goals by resorting to their lawyers. The appear arrogant, bullying and defensive – the perception is that they have something to hide, that NodeOne have touched a nerve. What was once a local Swedish issue is now an international one, thanks to NodeOne releasing English translations of EpiServer’s legal response.
EpiServer are now brand firefighting – they turned a product comparison into a brand defence, which is harder for people to forget. Their head of European Marketing even resorted to defending their position on NodeOne’s website – which smacks of desperation and only served to enhance NodeOne’s position as defender of free speech against an over mighty corporation.
Its a big bad world out there and companies are right to seek to protect their brand, but resorting to lawyers is rarely the best thing to do online, even when legally you may be correct. Online you have few controls over what happens and the story can spiral out of your control very quickly and messily. You have to be subtle in your responses – lawyers are not noted for their subtlety.