Sonder | How Lego became the world’s most powerful brand
The world’s most powerful brands are producing in-demand content, charging TV networks to play it, then reaping all the rewards at the cash register.
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How Lego became the world’s most powerful brand

How Lego became the world’s most powerful brand

Perhaps surprisingly, toy brand Lego topped this year’s ranking of the world’s most powerful brands, according to a survey compiled by the business valuation consultancy Brand Finance. The survey defines the most “powerful” brands, as companies whose financial value is most impacted by their branding.

But if you scratch the surface just a little, that surprise dissipates very quickly. Lego recently announced profits of US$840m, making it the number one toy company in Europe and Asia, and third in North America, where sales topped US$1BN for the first time. Last year Lego sold 75BN bricks. Lego people (the 4cm-tall yellow characters) outnumber humans! The Toy Retailers Association voted Lego the toy of the century.

What we found interesting was how Lego achieved this exalted position. Smartly, they let retailers do much of the product advertising and put their “marketing” dollars behind leveraging their own assets. Let’s review the owned assets that made Lego top of the Brand tree:

Movies
The Lego Movie returned a box office revenue of US$470M as well as metacritic ratings comparable with Oscar winners and the Lego Batman Movie outperformed the last ‘real’ Batman movie. Lego Ninjago Movie premieres later this year.
TV shows
The girl-friendly Lego Friends theme is widely heralded as the new Barbie as a product, merchandise machine and globally popular TV show. Lego City adventures for the boys is not far behind.
Franchise partnerships
Buddying up with Star Wars was highly lucrative because it enabled Lego to piggy-back the cultural phenomenon and create multiple owned assets off the back of it. Harry Potter, Hobbit & Minecraft partnerships also thrived.
Communal Lego-building
Usually held in local community centres featuring awe-inspiring creations for families to marvel over and play tables to make their dreams a reality. Often with a retail option attached but not always.
Apps, Social network & video games
Almost every product theme has an accompanying app which deepens the relationship with the brand and the thirst for more products. Lego Life is a social network for kids to share their creations, gaining “likes” from peers and Lego characters alike. Nexo Knights, is a video game where powers are unlocked by scanning Lego pieces.
Coming soon: Lego House
Based at global HQ in Denmark this 130,000 sq ft wonderland will open in September and is expected to draw 250,000 visitors a year. Visitors can climb up to the rooftop garden and down the other side, pausing to take in attractions, restaurants, play zones and a gallery dedicated to fan-made Lego extravaganzas.

Whilst the physical experiences are pivotal to the brand’s authenticity, the real powerhouse owned assets are the movies & TV shows. They bring mass exposure and engaging narratives to the product themes (Ninjago, Lego Friends, Lego City etc) and ensure pester power goes into overdrive as little Lego-lovers fight to get as many pieces in the theme as possible.

Anyone who is still struggling to comprehend the new brand:media world order; WAKE UP!
Brands are producing in-demand content, charging TV networks to play it, then reaping all the rewards for the brand and at the cash register. Red Bull have been doing it for years, now the most powerful brand in the world is leading the way.

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