If Lego can stay relevant, so can you!

May 3, 2014

As I watch our world constantly shift with dynamic and powerful changes, I often wonder how we will be able to continually help our clients stay relevant to their customers. Not to mention how we, as a regionally known advertising and marketing agency, can provide enough creative brainpower to keep our own services relevant during this period of continuous technological innovation that dramatically changes the way marketers communicate to their audiences.

We can because, as a company, one of our core values is a dedication to innovation and creative thinking. Every employee we hire understands that this is one of the core reasons they are being added to our team, regardless of their actual job within the agency. From the runner to our top-level creative and marketing strategists, staying ahead of shifts in technology and having a passion for new and innovative ideas is paramount to everything else we do.  So when I recently came across this article about how Lego came back from the brink of irrelevance almost 10 years ago to quadrupling revenues today, it confirmed my belief that ANY company can survive the digital revolution. If a company selling tiny plastic snap-together pieces can become the world’s most profitable toymaker in less than ten years, surely there are some lessons on innovation we can learn from them.

The Lego company was founded in a small village in Denmark in 1932. The company’s first toy was a wooden duck called Lego. The first plastic “bricks” were produced in 1949.  It’s a brand name familiar to children (and adults) around the world, but a decade ago Lego was in crisis. Sales were collapsing at a rate of 26% a year.

A new CEO, Joergen Vig Knudstorp, was hired in 2003 and is credited with driving Lego’s resurgence. He says that Lego’s success was due to constant innovation and the creation of 60-70 new products every year, including Harry Potter, Star Wars and SpongeBob Squarepants.  He admits that it is still a “major innovation challenge” to stay on top of childrens’ wish lists against competition from iPads and computer games. Added to their investment in quality and design, Lego’s is also benefiting from parents’ nostalgia for their own childhood – parents including David Beckham, who admitted earlier this month that he builds Legos with his children to stay calm and had just completed the 4,287-piece Tower Bridge kit. “For a parent aged 30 there’s no doubt about it that they would have Lego in their homes. Parents like to introduce their children to things that they loved as children”, commented Knudstorp.

In addition, Lego has successfully leveraged Social Media to boost their brand presence, with virtually all content being generated by the users (customers) themselves.  More than 99% of Lego videos on Youtube – featuring Lego recreations of everything from the London 2012 Olympics to the New Testament – are made by users. “We’re not leaving the brick, but we will leverage digital technology to stay relevant over the next 20 years,” he said.

If you asked me ten years ago whether I thought a brand like Legos could survive the digital revolution and compete in the “gaming” space, I would have said, “no way.”  But creativity breeds innovation. And innovation will always make an impact. Our clients hire us to think creatively and make an impact, and that’s what we deliver every day.  If a brand like Lego can reimagine themselves and not only stay relevant, but thrive, what can your brand accomplish this year?