Search Engine Reputation Management: Kryptonite Locks case study

In terms of branding, Kryptonite Locks has a lot of coolness factors working for them – it’s the choice lock of bike messengers in metropolitan cities (especially here in New York), the premium price tag of $100 a lock, and the name alone is synonymous with indestructibility and strength.

Alhan, our Marketing Director, was sold and ready to get a Kryptonite lock for his custom vintage Peugeot bicycle, but as a search engine marketer, Alhan googled "krytonite locks" for more information, to check out their search presence.

An excerpt from Alhan’s blog:

“When the SERP loaded, I skipped right past the official Kryptonite website - which was the only website I had planned to visit. Instead, I visited the other, much more interesting results:

  • A Wired article about how one can open Kryptonite locks with a Bic pen.
  • And YouTube videos showing how to open Kryptonite locks.

…Not exactly what I was expecting from the lock brand I had come to trust.

…I am not certain whether or not Kryptonite has resolved this issue, but from the looks of it, I would have to say that that they feel like the issue has been resolved. Regardless of Kryptonite’s superior technology, I refuse purchasing something from a company conceited enough to think that consumers will systematically prioritize brand name over quality.”

Eventually, Alhan didn't buy a Kryptonite lock and Kryptonite lost a potential customer.  I have searched around and Kryptonite did a very light attempt at fixing the situation. They should have addressed the problem in an environment of transparency.

If you have something that can damage your corporate image on Google, you have to take swift action and correct the situation. It has to be very accessible to everyone (e.g., on your homepage) and you have to respond questions quickly and honestly. Evaluate the complaint and correct the problem, even if it will cost you money in the process (e.g, recalling a product).

Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) is something that all companies have to consider as potential customers use Google for product information and reputation. With the use of social media tools like Twitter, blogs, forums, and online publishers these can make you or break you, but you can use these tools to remedy situations before they spread like wildfire.

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  1. Living through the experience with the Kryptonite team, I can tell you that the situation you referenced dates back six years and much transparent water has passed under the bridge since then. We learned a lot of really hard lessons about the importance of SERM, and probably still have more to learn. We did do a number of things in the online and social environment to restore trust in our brand and integrity. I hope you’ll rescan the horizon to look for those things, as well. We were recognized for some of those efforts, as well as the less stellar attempts to correct the way we originally handled the crisis. If your primary message is about being eternally vigilant when it comes to one’s reputation, I will say AMEN to that! Its regrettable that we didn’t get a chance to actually prove the value of our lock to Alhan but we’ll hope to again one day.

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