Silos are hurting your brand: A look at why your social team needs to be befriend your legal team

Before I get into it, I realize it’s been a bit over a year since my last post. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I’ve been doing most of my posting on Oshyn.com. I’ve had several ideas for posts, but as everyone knows, life gets busy sometimes. However, reading about several social media crises recently prompted me to write this post, enjoy!

Why your company’s department silos are hurting your brand

Awhile back, I remember seeing an article about Apple suing a Polishing online grocer about allegedly using their brand identity to sell products. I had a conversation with my dad (a retired corporate lawyer) about how I thought this was absolutely ridiculous (who is going to confuse groceries with computers?). He then told me about the lawyer’s point of view – their job is to protect the brand at all costs. It made sense when I thought about it more and which made me decide that maybe their lawyers weren’t acting completely crazy. Then I heard about the Nutella ‘cease and desist’ letter to a fan and it made me think: in today’s social world, it’s more important than ever to have clear communication between your brand’s lawyers and your brand’s social team.

Penns Valley Farms

If you’ve ever tried Nutella, you’ll know why fans are so crazy for it – it’s pretty damn good; however, one fan liked it so much, she organized ‘World Nutella Day’, a day where fans around the world could celebrate their love for Nutella through recipies, art, photos, eating it, etc. However, founder Sara Rosso received a cease and desist notice from Ferrero (the company that makes Nutella). She blogged about the letter and almost immediate uproar was heard from Nutella’s social community. Fans came out to show their support of the holiday and their disappointment with Ferrero trying to put an end to it. When I heard about this, one thing came to mind: silos.

Companies like Ferrero are usually made up of silos. This move shows that their lawyers were most likely not in contact with their social and/or marketing team*. Most marketers would kill to have fans set up a special day devoted to their brand and the thought of lawyers going after these fans would probably make their heads explode. Rosso stated on her blog that she’d been in contact with Ferrero employees, the PR and brand strategy teams and had positive experiences in the past. However, it doesn’t appear that she had any contact with their legal team before this incident. This is where silos within an organization can be damaging to your brand.

While the legal team was most likely doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing (protecting the brand), by not having any contact with other parts of the organization who could fill them in on the relationship they had with Rosso, they unknowingly created a social nightmare.

In the end, Ferrero did an outstanding job addressing the incident and resolving it quickly. Rosso posted on her blog that ‘World Nutella Day’ will continue to the delight of Nutella fans everywhere. If your organization is still operating with departments in their own silos, it’s a good idea to learn from Ferrero and open communication between your departments. This can save you headaches later and provide you with more resources (more brainpower!) now.

_____________________________

*I cannot say for sure the departments didn’t have any contact, this is just a guess.
[Image courtesy of Nicholas_T via Flickr Creative Commons]
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