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How Uber could take lessons from LEGO on culture.

If culture is "what your people do when no one is looking", or if culture is "your brand values in action" - then you might want to check that you aren’t heading for a brand culture collision.

Lately, we’ve seen numerous very public examples of where the actions of a company employees or leadership don’t match their stated brand values.

And while Uber and American Airlines might draw all the headlines, the truth is that many companies fail to properly embed their brand values internally. Which is a problem, because these days how your brand behaves on the inside is just as critical as how you portray your brand to the outside world. Culture is indeed king.

If culture is defined simply as your brand values in action, then having clear, actionable brand values defined in the first place is critical. All too often lofty brand purpose statements and values are created that are simply too vague or meaningless to put into concrete action and have little impact on culture.

Uber has brand values such as “always be hustlin", “make magic” or “be yourself” - which are at best unclear and at worst leave the brand wide open to poor judgement.

Brand values are too often created in a vacuum, signed off by leadership and forgotten. There might be a launch moment, but then everyone goes back to what they were doing before and brand values become bullet points on a PowerPoint slide that no one reads. While companies continually invest in building their brands externally, they seem to think their brand will come to life internally as if by magic.

How many companies embed their values into the fabric of their organisation and live by them every day? How many companies use their brand values as a guide for recruitment or the foundation for onboarding? How many companies invest the time to ensure every person understands how their role and behaviour supports their brand values? How many companies reward based on brand-based behaviour?

Probably not many. But for those who do, the rewards are high.

LEGO is a company featured in countless “most powerful” and “most admired” brand lists. LEGO also takes its brand values of Imagination, Creativity, Fun, Learning, Caring and Quality very seriously. LEGO itself says: “The LEGO brand is more than simply our familiar logo. It is the expectations that people have of the company towards its products and services, and the accountability that the LEGO Group feels towards the world around it. The brand acts as a guarantee of quality and originality.”

And ensuring that the brand lives internally is critical at LEGO. Indeed, brand values are used as part of its recruitment process and a two-day induction programme for new hires is a playful experience that serves as an introduction to the LEGO brand framework. From day-one, LEGO uses its values as the foundation for action and behaviour.

In our transparent world, ignoring the importance of embedding brand within is no longer an option. Creating and maintain a strong, brand-values based culture makes sound business sense.

At Big M, we work with companies to help them define their brand values and then ensure those values get lived by everyone, from day one.

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