Core values of Facebook (Meta) as building blocks of strategy and positioning

Core values of Facebook (Meta) as building blocks of strategy and positioning
What can you learn from the core values of Facebook (Meta)? The American company Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has been under fire for years. Privacy, hate speech, election interference, the self-image of young women, the list of objections goes on. At the same time, the brand consciously chooses clear core values that provide direction to the behavior of its 100,000 employees. How does founder Mark Zuckerberg think about determining core values, and what can we learn from this? We share his recent statements, our vision on this, and how core values relate to the positioning of your brand.

kernwaarden facebook metaIn the Tim Ferriss interview with Facebook’s (Meta) Mark Zuckerberg, he talked about core values and their influence on strategy and corporate culture. This fits well with our own vision in this area and provides an interesting insight into how a large company uses its core values as a strategic tool. We’ve picked out three aspects:

  • Distinctive core values
  • Determining core values
  • Developing core values

Distinctive core values

“At the core, I have always believed that values are only useful if you can legitimately disagree with them. A value like ‘be honest’ is not that helpful because it’s logical that you are honest. You feel bad if you have to write that down. If you have to write that down, something went wrong. But I also don’t know a good company that doesn’t focus on honesty and expects it from its employees. […] If you are allowed to choose 5 or 6 concepts to program into your culture, you want them to be concepts that a good company could reasonably do differently.”

The way brands work is often more important than the result. CoolBlue’s slogan “everything for a smile” doesn’t promise a better device but a pleasant experience. The company links “quirky” as a core value to this, which you can see in every advertisement (which almost always brings a smile). Strong core values are thus an instrument for distinctiveness, not a list of rules of conduct. Core values provide direction to behavior rather than prescribing an action.

Distinctive core values

Many brands find it difficult to choose distinctive core values. They get stuck on vague terms or cannot agree on what captures the essence of their brand. We help teams break through this. With an interactive methodology around fun workshops, we quickly create energy and a clear result. We would be happy to tell you more about it.

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Determining core values

“Good values, you have to give something up to get them. ‘Move fast’, our value, you can’t simply tell people to act quickly. The question is, what’s the deal, what are you willing to sacrifice for it? We had the famous ‘Move fast and break things’ for a while, which meant we tolerated a certain amount of bugs to encourage people to act quickly. Because I think moving quickly is the key to learning. The faster we iterate, the faster we can incorporate customer feedback into the product. If competitors update once a year and we update every day, we learn faster and build a better product.”

The core of positioning is taking a unique position in the customer’s mind. And that also means there is a position you don’t take. What behavior fits and what doesn’t? Facebook preferred an imperfect product if it meant it could innovate quickly. Some companies will make the opposite choice and prefer “slow and steady wins the race,” for example. A target audience that values reliability or predictability will develop a preference for these companies over Facebook. The same goes for hiring people; which applicant feels at home in both companies?

How to determine core values?
A good way to determine core values is by answering the question: “What concrete behavior will differentiate our brand from the competition?” When we think of Gorilla’s “faster than you,” do you think the flash delivery service values honesty and transparency? We wouldn’t be surprised if “Action” is at the top of their list, as everyone knows what is expected of them.

Developing Core Values

“But [with ‘Move fast and break things’], we got to a point where, as the company grew, we were producing so many bugs that it wasn’t giving us speed, it was slowing us down. So I thought: moving fast remains essential, but we need to change our approach. So it evolved into the less sexy phrase ‘move fast with stable infrastructure’. Our new bet was that, with a disproportionate investment in building good infrastructure and abstractions within our companies, the average engineer would become faster and more productive, get more done than at other companies.”

Companies go through different stages of growth, and market developments also play a significant role. A brand needs tools to respond appropriately to these changes. By distilling core values from positioning that stimulate the right behavior and shape the culture, brands can be more agile. By transforming existing core values, employees know more quickly what they need to do.

The importance of positioning

Why is positioning important? Because it is the coherence between the various core values that makes the difference. This determines the culture of an organization and the type of people who want to work for it. The saying ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ exists for a reason; only with the right culture can your brand make a difference. In positioning, all aspects of your culture come together in one compelling story. A story that everyone understands and can tell without any confusion to a new colleague.

Core values are an essential part of a brand’s differentiating power, but not every organization optimally utilizes them. Do you want to know how your core values can contribute to the growth of your brand? Then contact us.

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