Building the Lego brand one block at a time

[Guest blogger: Anne Charbonneau, Managing Partner NL and France]

What’s with the banana? The other day, my son got a new Lego
Indiana truck set and in the truck, we found a minuscule plastic… banana. It
got me thinking about this fabulous company and I started digging. Here are a
few things I found out that help explain the incredible
business growth they have achieved (+ 30% revenue in 5 years). 

1. Product
pride that leaves fingerprints

There is an incredible pride in product  making at Lego, and the culture allows
for product developers to actually leave a trace. Look a the fire engine
picture. Guess what the HA 72 08 means? Well, it’s the initial of the designer Hendrik
Andersen followed by the project number. [Note from David: reminds me of Aston Martin's craftsmen engraving their signature on the engine block]

Picture 1

Living the
brand, brick by brick

In 2008, one of Lego’s factories was faing serious problem
of noise level and work conditions. Instead of bringing some specialist, the
workers pulled their sleeves up applied the same resourcefulness and creativity
kids use  lego and build themselves
a better workplace, with a few boxes of Lego bricks. 

Says the project
“We built a
model of the problem in Lego bricks, and it becomes visible to everyone without
even words. They used Duplo Lion for example to signify high noise spots. A Lego garden fence can represent all sort of physical and symbolic barriers or
How cool. And effective: 2 days of ‘play’ brought 21 tangible idea to improve the

Pb solving with lego
brand extension that builds the core

Lego had terrible past experience in the past moving
away from its core business. However, today’s brand extensions and fully inspired by
the core product. Looking forward, the choice to go into virtual gaming seems
pretty obvious, but how do you crack in a way that build on the core and
resonate with the creativity of brick building? Here are a few examples:

1. Design ByME allows you to design your own model on line,
and buy it, with a customised box and building instructions.

Design byME

2. Winning partnerships with computer gaming specialist
NetDevil to develop Lego Universe. By embedding Lego bricks and figuring into
their virtual stuff, Lego also avoid copying and builds barriers to entry. Also
interestingly, tone in voice is used as a differentiator: inside jokes and
humour are a real trademark of Lego Gaming.

Lego Universe
3. Lego’s franchise of Star Wars and Indiana Jones are bringing
major revenues. They also drive lots of online content creation with
16 millions visits on
its site
every month,
keeping the brand alive and vibrant.

Feed the
fans..and even the fanatics

Lego is truly fantastic at connecting and rewarding fans in
all sorts of ways. For example, in the online shop by selecting ‘Pick a brick’ you can buy online individual bricks of
Lego. No kidding. If you kid is gagging for a Jedi laser sword in light blue he can have it for 14 Eurocent. Yes there is minimum
amount to order, but just click on the pieces you like and place you order. And
if you’re not sure if you want a pirate head or a bandit head, you can check out
the 360 view of each piece.

Pick a brick 

And, perhaps best of all, you have to check out this Lego-enabled video of a sketch by UK comedian Eddie Izzard about Darth Vader trying to get served in the canteen of the death star. Its been seen by over 10million people. I peed my pants laughing it. Great to see a long established brand like Lego being the catalyst for online content like this.

In conclusion, Lego is great example of real product passion, translated into both the core business and in extending it via new ways of connecting with consumers.