When we think about brands that get it right with youth, we can’t help but think LEGO®. We’ve highlighted the lessons to be learned from looking closely at the LEGO® brand in numerous webinars and conference presentations. And we continue to admire the brand’s moves, and marvel in its appetite for reinvention.
But beyond LEGO®’s strategy, there’s something that the brand just gets right when it comes to kids. Many brands could partner with Star Wars and see a spike, but what does LEGO® bring to their partnerships that make them so salient? Many brands have taken offline equities to the homeland of the digital natives with success. And recently, more and more brands have managed to matter to multiple age segments (a difficult task, although one that seems more accessible than ever). What makes LEGO® so likable not only sheds light on the LEGO® brand essence, but also on some undeniable truths about youth…
- LEGO makes edge accessible. The plotline: A team of Ninjas engage in an epic battle to defeat Lord Garmadon, the embodiment of underworld evil, and a group of scale-laden serpents. Too scary for kids? Not when the characters look like LEGO®s! Whether it’s making menacing characters more comfortable to watch, putting pre-teen properties in a format that kids can embrace, or making play patterns (like the battles of Beyblades) in a slightly more benign form (Ninjago’s line of Spinjitzu Spinners), LEGO® makes exploring a bit safer.
- LEGO leverages the cute and the cool. Just when traditional toys take a backseat to digital doings, LEGO likability seems to rise. Boys, in particular, find solace in the systematizing play, to go along with systematizing brains, that LEGO® owns. With a look and style that feels quirky but not risky, LEGO® lets boys keep their toys in tow without losing face. LEGO® Friends, a new line from the brand designed to engage girls, lets girls continue to play Polly Pockets without feeling like she’s lingering for too long in childhood. The over-the-top cuteness of LEGO® figures, in particular, elevates them beyond babyish to a kind of cool that have helped brands like Hello Kitty keep their kid audience long after they outgrow baby dolls and stuffed animals. “Cute” might not be a concept that we associate with boys, but deep down , there might be something sweet and silly that LEGO® lets them express.
- LEGO® makes little look big. Like kids, LEGO®s are the little things that feel big (or sometimes want to!). Their small stature, juxtaposed with the grand adventures they go on, make for visually arresting images, and somewhere along the way, the idea that these little figures can steer ships, fight aliens, and stop bankrobbers feels believable. With size and strength taken out of the mix, characters can be judged by who they are and what they do, not their age or size – a kid fantasy come true.
- LEGO® puts play in place. When LEGO® partners with a property, that property doubles its play value. No longer do products simply promote reenactment of storylines; instead, they facilitate story creation. LEGO® play invites improvisation in a way that a standard play set can’t, letting kids bring themselves to play versus letting the toy lead the way. LEGO®s let kids feel ownership of these properties, not just participants in stories that someone else has written.
- LEGO® pleases parents. Finally, LEGO®s have evolved, but still look pretty familiar to parents who grew up building with those little bricks. LEGO®s not only gets kids their moms’ and dads’ seal of approval, but it also gets them on the floor or sitting side-by-side with their sons and daughters, allowing them to play architect, builder, designer and artist. Few other playthings invite parent participation like LEGO®s do. And for this generation of youth, parent approval puts brands at the top of their lists.