We just returned from the “Land of Lego.”  In other words, Denmark.  The colorful little blocks we all grew up with were invented there in 1949 in a town called Billund.  In the past fifty years, they’ve gone around the world.  Once almost bankrupt, they have re-emerged to become by some accounts the largest toy company in the world.  This is remarkable in the age of virtual experiences and digital entertainment.  After all, these are essentially building blocks.

Seeing the stores over there can blow your mind…especially if the little blocks were once your favorite thing to do.  I’m all in favor of over-doing it but this is ridiculous.  If the image below looks a bit pixilated, that is partly because it is made of Lego blocks.

lego

So, I’m wondering, “what are the Lincoln Log people doing?”  Why is Lego so successful while other simple constructions toys are not.  I didn’t see a store for the Erector Set at the airport.  There are hundreds of Lego stores in dozens of countries.  There are six Lego amusement parks.  There is at least one Lego movie (it’s called a “blockumentary”).  They’ve sold almost a trillion individual blocks.

So what can we learn from the large, little block company?  For one thing, you have to innovate.  They are no longer essentially selling a commodity.  They are selling kits.  Instead of buying a bunch of blocks you now buy a $49 kit to make something specific.  Enter the grandparents, the gift purchase and the licensing agreement with Hollywood.  They’ve made their product current, relevant and, specific kits channel the child’s (or adult’s) imagination.  They’ve also done a good job making their product cool.  It is nostalgic and current at the same time.  Try that in your industry.

Lego Blocks have become so synonymous with creativity, they are often used in brainstorming sessions, architecture and are even used in clinical therapy.  Perhaps the best marketing tool they have–or that any product could have–is that they just make you feel good.  The good thing is, everywhere is the “land of Lego.”