Lego. One word made from a combination of two Danish words meaning “play well.” However, that word conjures an immediately recognizable image to all our minds. Which image is it though?
Is it a corporate logo?
Or is it a brick?
As some of you may know, we conducted an informal Facebook poll asking that very question. Of the 35 people who took the poll, 30 chose the brick. Why is Lego’s brick more recognizable than their Logo? Many businesses consider their Logo to be their brand. However, Lego goes beyond the typical visual representation of their Brand (the Logo.)
In 2015, Lego was declared the most powerful brand by Brand Finance. (1) What makes such a simple concept as a plastic interlocking brick system so popular and powerful? David A. Aaker says, “One key to successful brand-building is to understand how to develop a brand identity – to know what the brand stands for and to effectively express that identity.” (2) Simon Sinek expressed it in his Ted Talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action (possibly set up as either a hyperlink or maybe an iframe to the video?)
Lego’s guiding creed is “Only the best is good enough.” That is a fine standard for operation, but I believe their Why is actually much simpler and is expressed in their name. Play Well.
Play Well leads me to a combination of two concepts: emotional connection and the freedom of creativity. The Emotional connection goes back to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. Those people who truly connect with your brand connect emotionally with your why.
Do you remember your first Lego set? Or maybe your kids’ first Lego set? The fun and freedom to build not only the design the set came with but to be able to dream up your own design. Or maybe it was the experience of laying on the floor with your parents or kids and putting together endless designs. Lego emphasizes education through play, creativity, and innovation. My son loves Legos. Everything from the bricks, the movies, the cartoons, books, and video games make up most of his wish list. They are the toys he plays with the most and the ones I am most likely to step on day or night (ouch!). I even found some of his Legos in my laptop bag the other day. When I come home from work, he often asks me to either see what he has built that day, or he wants me to build something with him.
The only documentary he has ever willingly sat through is Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary. Because of that, his dream is to become a master builder. More accurately, he wants to be a Lego Model Designer when he grows up. He loves being able to create new things. So, how does this apply to branding?
The ability to connect emotionally to your customers is not as difficult as it might seem. Some of it can be accomplished with the authentic sharing of your story. Why do you do what you do? Another element is the consistent and again authentic performance of your expressed values. People connect to other people and organizations with whom they have shared common values, interests, and experiences. Even if people do not share those values, interests, and experiences they can still respect an individual or organization that consistently and authentically holds to their expressed values.
The freedom of creativity and emotional connection is not limited to children at play. While Lego does release build kits focused around popular movies like Star Wars or Harry Potter, they also release many more kits that are more generic in nature such as their City kits so children have the freedom to create their own story. Fan created movies, web pages, and apps that allow children and adults to post pictures of their Lego creations are easily found. Entire YouTube channels have been created around building with Legos and there are many contests and educational programs using Legos to develop new ideas. Such a strong connection is made between Lego customers and their product that many people stay fans for life and it has even inspired some customers’ careers.
Now, I know not every company can be as freely creative and innovative as a children’s toy company nor will their products be so inspiring or interactive. Change is constant and necessary. In fact, Brand Finance’s 2018 Most Powerful Brand is no longer Lego. The current winner is Disney (another company known for creativity and innovation.) Lego is still noteworthy because its brand eclipses its logo. The image of a brightly colored plastic brick is iconic and immediately associated with Lego. With their creativity and the creativity of their customers, Lego has connected with the hearts of children and adults around the world. As a result, their company is one worth recognition. Creativity is often most useful in marketing a company or its products. Companies can use creativity to help their business grow, develop, and innovate. Lego started out making wooden toys. Changing to plastic bricks worked out pretty well for them. Since that change, they have been consistent about fostering creativity in education and play and authentic in regards to their name and their expressed philosophy of ”Only the best is good enough.” So, as you allow your creativity to flow around your brand and marketing keep these words in mind, “leg godt” or “Play Well.”
If you need help with your brand or aren’t sure if your efforts are consistent or authentic to your values, we can help you play with the Building Blocks of Branding.
- Finance, Brand. Lego Overtakes Ferrari as the World’s Most Powerful Brand. brandfinance.com. [Online] February 17, 2015. http://brandfinance.com/press-releases/lego-overtakes-ferrari-as-the-worlds-most-powerful-brand/.
- Aaker, David A. Building Strong Brands. 1996.