When Lego launched in 1932, it was an extremely different company from what it has transformed into today. The company has grown from a “small carpenter’s workshop to a modern, global enterprise” that dominates every industry it enters. This rise to power, amid continually growing competition, was only possible because Lego actively managed its customers’ perceptions.
But They Are Basically Mega Bloks…
Keep in mind that Lego’s interlocking brick technology and that of its major competitor, Mega Blocks, are virtually identical from an engineering perspective. Yet Lego has continually outperformed everyone in sales and brand recall. Why? The answer is perception management.
Let me give you an example: A couple months ago, I bought my Lego-crazed daughter a Mega Bloks Smurf House. Even though she thanked me profusely, I could tell she was disappointed. After some prodding, she finally admitted that when I buy her Mega Bloks she feels like our family is poor.
She didn’t’ realize why she felt that way, but I did. Mega Bloks had lost the interlocking brick branding war.
How to Manage Brand Perception
According to Jennifer Connelly, founder and CEO of JCPR, “Strategically communicating your brand attributes consistently across all media platforms, lays the foundation for how your brand is perceived.”
A study of Lego’s marketing efforts teaches us that perception management involves conveying tailored and selected information with the desire of influencing the emotions, motives and objective reasoning of customers. Objectively, my daughter shouldn’t care whether I buy her Legos or Mega Bloks – but it’s not about rationality, it’s about emotion.
You Can’t Escape a Successful Marketing Strategy
Lego is able to successfully manage the perceptions of its millions of customers because it generates positive content across all the possible channels it’s customers interact with. Even media restrictive families like my own are not free from Lego’s influence.
My family has seen The Lego Movie, played Lego video games and interacted with engaging Lego displays in various stores. Lego understands that in order to influence the emotions, motives and objective reasoning of its customers, it has to be active in all available media channels. Not just active for being active’s sake but active for a purpose.
As Everything Does, It All Comes Down to Golf
A research study conducted by Professor Jessica Witt and her research staff at Purdue University found that perception and performance are highly correlated. In one of the conducted research exercises, researchers took nine different black circles of varying sizes and placed them on a white background. They asked 46 active golfers to identify which circle more closely resembled the actual size of a hole on a putting green. The “golfers who played better, judged the hole to be bigger than the golfers who did not play as well.”
Then, in follow-up experiments, additional researchers asked non-golfing participants to putt from two locations: close and far proximity to a hole on a golf mat. Following their putting experience, the participants were asked to look at a white board with similar black circles as the previous study.
Participants who putted closer to the hole “perceived the hole to be bigger than participants who putted from the far location.” The overall takeaway, according to Professor Witt, was that “perception is influenced by the perceiver’s current ability to act effectively in the environment” he or she is in.
In the business world, a customer’s ability to act effectively is constantly changing. The Internet has explosively increased a customer’s ability to access information and thus, metaphorically, their ability to golf. Companies that actively manage their customers’ perspectives and desires will be viewed in a more positive light. They will be the ones who are able to survive, succeed and make it to the 18th hole.