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Hatch and Schultz Action Research in Lego Company


Action research undertaken by Hatch and Schultz in LEGO Company elaborates a handful of insights on corporate branding. It offers an insightful example of managerial challenges and dynamics involved in organizations that are used in developing global brands (Hatch, 2009). They argued for a shift from product to corporate branding that meant a shift from marketing-based activities towards strategies based on brands for organizational management. As a tradition, the generational notion of management systems of product branding required each product to have an individual and distinct product brand identity (Schultz, 2002). On the other hand, the corporate brand idea provides an assumption that creates one unified message across all functions within an organization. This lifts brand management from the operational discipline that is tactical in nature to the strategic corporate level involving an organization as a whole. Unified corporate identity is necessary for developing one unified message across functions (Heding, 2009).

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Corporate branding means shifting away from product branding that has a narrow marketing focus on tactical and functional processes. Weaknesses exhibited in product branding processes are accommodated by corporate branding. The structure of LEGO’s branding initiative, for instance, transformed from initial market orientation into organization-wide reorganization that included management programs of change and efforts to produce and manage coherence in the management of global brands (Schultz, 2003). Corporate branding depends on brand strategies that are long-term compared to product branding that relies on advertising strategies that are short-term. It also allows companies to utilize their rich heritage competitively to create brands by expanding differential parameters. Corporate branding needs company involvement as a whole and stresses the key role workers play if they are to succeed in developing a corporate brand that is solid. The differential strategy requires values and beliefs held by employees as vital elements. Corporate branding ‘is a move towards conceiving more integrated relationships between internal and external stakeholders linking top management, employees, customers, and other stakeholders (Schultz, 2005).

Incorporate branding, the organization as a whole plays a significant role in brand positioning. It provides that, the company can decide on specific choices, design processes of the organization, and perform activities in a manner that is distinct to the company compared with mainstream trends and competitors. Corporate branding stresses significant roles played by employees in brand practice compared to product branding. It elaborates how employees engage with and adopt values and visions of the brand important to corporate brands. Therefore, values, aesthetic sensitivity, and beliefs exhibited by members of an organization turn to be strategic elements in differentiation strategies, as the organization itself moves center stage its branding effort (Hatch, 2008).

Organizational employees shoulder heavy credibility and relevance issues of the brand to outside stakeholders. The cultural behavior of employees can either aid or destroy an organization’s claims to uniqueness and attraction. In essence, employees are critical for an organization’s ability to put into practice what it advocates. This provides a reason as to why more organizations participate in making brands understandable, relevant, and engaging to their workers through internal mechanisms such as marketing, communication advocacies for workers, staged events, brand programs, and many others as witnessed in LEGO Company (Hatch, 2008). These activities in terms of organizational participation build a solid conceptual framework of corporate branding.

Insight on the Role of Workers in Constituting Corporate Branding

The action research on the LEGO Company by the researchers was based on conceptual framing of corporate branding. Thus, the main focus was pegged on the role of company employees and in effect the organizational culture in making a corporate brand (Hatch, 2008). In the researchers’ opinion, the element of organizational culture had been underestimated in corporate branding, despite the fact that it represents the most significant contrast from product branding. It is important to note that organizational culture is reflected in the ways company employees interpret and emotionally interact with organizational stakeholders. This paper provides insight into how a cultural view can be used in the managerial effort to move from product branding to corporate branding. The corporate brand concept depicts the expansion of branding to involve inquiries that are cultural, sociological, and theoretical. The managerial and economic analyses of corporate branding are complemented and complicated by these aspects.

Insight over the Structure for Corporate Branding

Hatch and Schultz in their action research in LEGO Company underpinned alignment of the organization’s key vision, culture, and stakeholder views that lead to successful corporate branding. Strategic organizational vision provides a focal idea behind the organization that embodies and relays the aspirations of top management predicted to be achieved in the future by the organization. Organizational culture depicts internal values, beliefs, and assumptions that are basic that embody the organization’s heritage and are reflected in the ways employees feel about organizations they work for. For instance, in the action research in LEGO Company, managers are seen struggling continuously to determine the right combination of respect for corporate values that are longstanding and the need to bring stakeholders near to the brand (Hatch, 2006). This is reflected in the efforts of restating the traditional values of LEGO Company in a language that was contemporary and forceful. In addition, it resulted in efforts to convert these values to be more relevant to stakeholders through its brand school and customers through community activities. Stakeholder images are views developed by the company’s external stakeholders such as; customers, the media, shareholders, the general public, and many others (Hatch, 1041-65). The combination of these key elements of corporate branding underpins the corporate brand framework.

Insight on the Implementation of Corporate Brands

Action research in Lego Company provides insight into the analytical framework for understanding and managing the implementation of the corporate brand. It highlights how the implementation of corporate brands can be viewed better as an organizational change process. Just like change management, corporate branding implementation follows a process or a series of cycles with managerial and organizational challenges that vary (Schultz, 2003). Such cycles in change management include; stating, organizing, involving, integrating, and monitoring. The study in LEGO Company advances the dynamic model for corporate branding creation, implementation and examines risks involved in the transformation between change cycles (Hatch, 2003).

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The research study highlights corporate branding as a strategic process. The adoption of a corporate brand needs the involvement of multiple internal and external stakeholders in organizational change. Managers’ and employees’ engagement from various functions and subcultures in accomplishing corporate brand vision provides the key difference between classic branding and corporate branding. The depth and scope of the change process of a corporate brand depend on specified strategic context. However, implementation corporate brands have managerial and organizational challenges than product brands implementation process. The study on LEGO Company suggests organizational change as a mirror for understanding the challenges of corporate branding. Action research on LEGO Company is based on corporate branding cycles. It highlights cycles applying concepts and insights ranging from organizational change to transformational leadership. It also explains tensions and challenges that corporate brand implementation poses to organizations and management. In addition, it suggests levels of change management to guide the company through the process of change (Hatch, 2003).


Action research on LEGO Company offered insight on corporate brand strategy change; from product branding to corporate branding through cycles of change in the company’s corporate brand implementation process. The notion of analyzing the organization as a brand extended the approach applied in product branding, concentrating on the essence of the brand, benefits, and individual visual identities (Schultz, 2005). The cycles indicate a transformation in the manner the company viewed corporate branding and each cycle and it was explained in relation to vision, culture, and image (Hatch, 2008). Each cycle represents the distinct process of organizational change.

The dynamic model, that is, the Tool-Kit can be used by managers in analyzing various brand elements and determine the level of differences between them. This is important for the purpose of motivating the organization to recognize challenges in the present expression of the brand and move towards changing the brand. Organizational managers require considering organizational culture and stakeholder images in evaluating and restating corporate brand vision (Hatch, 2003).

Researchers on corporate branding need to have developed tools to understand corporate culture together with more concepts of branding, such as value, strategy, and equity. Hatch and Schultz argued that the implementation of the brand process undergoes different stages. Each stage produces challenges that are distinct to brand management and also posses varied opportunities and limitations for employees’ engagement in the corporate brand. The conceptual framework was meticulously illustrated with the branding process description that occurred in LEGO Company (Hatch, 2003).

Works Cited

Hatch, Schultz, M. (2003). Bringing the Corporation into Corporate Branding. European Journal of Marketing, 2003. 37(7-8): 1041-65.

Hatch, & Schultz, M. (2008). Taking Brand Initiatives. New York: Wiley Publishers.

Heding, Charlotte, Knutzen, A. (2009). Brand Management: Theory and Practice. London: Taylor and Francis.

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Schultz, Antorini, & Csaba, F. (2005). Corporate Branding. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

Shultz, & Hatch, M. (2002). Dynamics of Organizational Identity. Human Relations Review, 55(8): 989-1017.

Shultz, & Hatch, M. (2003). Cycles of Corporate Branding. California: California, Management Review, 46(1): 6-26.

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