Customer experience expert gives her take on how it all went wrong for the once-powerful global company that lost its brand values.
Lego: the legendary toy brand that celebrates its own ‘international day’ today
By our News Team | 2022
It was on this day in 1958 that the famous Lego plastic brick system was patented – and the brand was on its way to becoming world renowned.
As a marketer, you know your brand has truly become iconic when it can lay claim to having its own ‘international day’. Such is the case with toy company Lego, which today (Friday, 28 January), celebrates International Lego Day.
Brand enthusiasts (who often refer to themselves as ‘brick nerds’), chat groups, social media platforms and specialist toy websites have all been marking the occasion, which celebrates the day in 1958 when the modern plastic toy brick was first patented.
Prior to that, Lego had existed as a moderately successful Danish children’s toy brand founded in 1932 at the small carpentry workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen. The name in Danish stands for ‘Leg Godt’ which means ‘play well’.
But it was only when the modern plastic brick design was perfected and patented, that the brand began achieving great international success. In 1978, for example, minifigures became an integral part of most Lego sets.
Photo courtesy of Brick Nerd
In May 2011, the brand achieved ‘great heights’ when the space shuttle Endeavor carried 13 Lego sets to the International Space Station, where astronauts built models together to see how the bricks would react in a micro-gravity environment.
In May 2013, a massive Lego model was assembled and displayed in New York. Made from more than 5-million bricks, it was a a 1:1 scale model of an X-wing fighter.
In February 2015, Lego replaced Ferrari as the most powerful brand in the world.
The Lego brand hit tough and troubled times
But is hasn’t all been plain sailing. By the early 2000s, the business was in deep trouble. Sales were down 30% year-on-year and debt was huge. By its own admission, Lego hadn’t added anything of value to its product portfolio in 10 years.
Children, its core customer base, didn’t like the brand much anymore.
After extensive soul-searching, management embarked on a major rebranding strategy. They added digital channels to engage kids and their parents and succeeded in re-establishing Lego as vibey and relevant once again.
The company added Lego-themed Hollywood blockbuster movies and Lego-themed entertainment venues. The approaches that had worked well before – such as linking products to popular big-name movies – were retained. The rest got the boot.
Suddenly, Lego was hip and fun. From 2008 to 2010 its profits quadrupled, outstripping that of Apple’s. By 2015 it had ousted Ferrari as to become the world’s most powerful brand.
Enjoy your International Lego Day!
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Kalu has been with the agency since 2016 and brings a wide range of experience and professional expertise to his new role.