Brick by Brick: How Lego made building fun for everyone

LEGO almost became a distant memory! Learn how they went from building a flop to building a billion-dollar brand (and a playful new rebrand!).

Hey there,

For generations, LEGO has embodied building adventures, inspiring imaginations and nurturing creativity in kids of all ages. Its iconic interlocking bricks have broken language and cultural barriers, captivating millions globally.

Yet, LEGO's path to triumph wasn't always assured.

Launched in 1932, LEGO enjoyed decades of success until the early 2000s. By the 1990s, the company strayed from its core strengths and started diversifying into jewelry and theme parks, which proved disastrous. They lost sight of what made them special – the simple joy of building.  Their sales plummeted, and LEGO faced the very real possibility of bankruptcy.

However, the story took an interesting turn here and LEGO rebounded to emerge as the world's most valuable toy brand with a staggering brand value surpassing $7.4 billion by 2023.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp: Architect of a Remarkable Turnaround

Amid the bankruptcy fear, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, ex CEO and current executive chairman of The Lego Group steered LEGO back to its roots. He streamlined operations, refocused marketing on the joy of building, and nurtured a connection with fans.

Here’s what he did right:

  1. Refocusing on Core Business:  Jørgen Vig Knudstorp recognized LEGO had strayed from its core strength of making people experience the simple joy of building with bricks. He streamlined operations and realigned marketing efforts on this core experience.

  2. Strategic Innovation:  LEGO innovated within their core concept. Lines like Mindstorms for programmable robots and Friends expanded their appeal.

  3. Licensing Powerhouses: LEGO capitalized on pop culture with successful partnerships like Star Wars, launched first in 1999. These collaborations brought familiar characters and storylines to the brick world, igniting imaginations of a new generation. Remarkably, the LEGO X Star Wars partnership endures even after 25 years.

  1. Fan Engagement: LEGO fostered a connection with fans. They embraced crowdsourcing, allowing fans to contribute ideas and participate in the creative process. They also nurtured a vibrant online community where fans could share creations, participate in challenges, and connect with other builders.

The Power of Play: A 2024 Rebrand

Fast forward to today, LEGO faces the challenge of seamlessly integrating its brand experience across both physical products and digital platforms. To tackle this effectively, they underwent a comprehensive design overhaul, in collaboration with the iconic brand consulting company, Interbrand.

The rebrand ensured:

  1. Unified Look: LEGO created a consistent brand identity for both physical products and digital spaces.

  2. Engaging Young Minds: They use comic book elements like speech bubbles to connect with young children who are still developing reading skills.

  3. Digital Bricks: A new "clutch system" lets you create digital designs that mimic real LEGO bricks.

  4. Global Communication: A new typeface, "LEGO Typewell," works in 120 languages and maintains the LEGO brick look.

  5. Visual Storytelling: "Action Graphics" uses LEGO elements to convey emotions and stories without text.

  6. Playful Movement: Design elements move and interact in a way that reflects how children naturally play with LEGO bricks

The rebrand strengthens LEGO's position as a global leader in playful learning. As Thomas Holst Sørensen, head of design at LEGO's in-house creative agency, states,

"Our new brand DNA reflects what is important for the LEGO brand. It is a beautiful, simple, and well-constructed system that both unifies and breaks free the creative and playful expression of our brand and product experiences.”

The rebrand for me particularly signifies a commitment to a unified and engaging LEGO experience for all.

Adults are Welcome

Lately, LEGO has also put out campaigns targeting adults.

By designing intricate sets tailored for older demographics culminating in the tagline "adults welcome," LEGO has demonstrated its ability to appeal to audiences of all ages.

So much so, that in 2022, Wall Street Journal released a striking video which showed how people are ‘investing’ in LEGO as collectibles, similar to say, wine or art.

We discuss LEGO’s fascinating marketing strategy and which influencers they can pair up with in our next episode of Influencer Matchmaking on Youtube. Subscribe to know when it’s live.

While you are at it, check us out on Instagram as well.

See you next Tuesday with yet another brand.

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