What Can We Learn From LEGO To Build Our Own Brands?

As my first Medium post, I thought I would share an idea that stems from my love of a childhood toy, the LEGO. In February 2015 LEGO replaced Ferrari as the “World’s most powerful brand.” What 5 things can we learn from LEGO to build our own brands?

1. LEGO — “Play Well” — What Can We Learn From A Name?

The LEGO Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891–1958), a carpenter from Billund, Denmark. In 1934, his company came to be called “LEGO”, from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well”.

“Play Well” — No matter what you do, do it well, and have fun while doing it.

We do our best work when we are having fun. If you talk to many successful people they never talk about having to go to work.

You will live a much better life if you just do it and pursue your passions. Those people who spend their time working on things they love are usually the ones enjoying life the most. They are also the ones who dared to take a risk and chase their dreams. -Richard Branson
Play well with others….

The world is a very small place. Reputation is important, Play well with others, build relationships. What does your name stand for?

2. LEGO Group’s Motto — det bedste er ikke for godt

The LEGO Group’s motto is det bedste er ikke for godt which means, “only the best is the best” or “the best is never too good”. This motto was created by Ole Kirk to encourage his employees never to skimp on quality, a value he believed in strongly.

Never skimp on quality

Your customers, your guests, your colleagues, your friends, your family, and you only deserve the best. In my experience, if you focus on being your best self, everything will fall into place. Expect to be mediocre and you will be mediocre. Expect to be the best, and you might fail. But, If you encourage yourself to be your best self; you will never fail. Challenge yourself to continuous improvement. Invest in yourself, “the best is never too good”

3. Embrace New Technology — Keep Learning

Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys in 1932. Ole Kirk could have continued to be content in making wooden toys and still been successful. However, he saw an opportunity to embrace new technology and he adopted it early when he purchased a new injection-molding machine to create the first modern day LEGO bricks.

Build on your foundation brick by brick

When building your brand, don’t be afraid to embrace new technology. Working with wooden bricks would have given Ole Kirk some limitations. Ole Kirk made the connection of using new technology and materials early to build a better toy. The internet provides us with opportunities to communicate, connect, and share ideas faster than our predecessors. These ideas allow technology to improve and go viral. Think of new technology as another tool. Add it to your tool-belt. Embrace the new technologies in your field. Keep an ear out for the “Pulse” of the community. Can new technology be adapted to fit your field?

As you gain more skills and embrace new technologies, build on your foundation brick by brick until you are happy with the result. Remember just like LEGO ®, you can continue to re-invent yourself.

4. Imagination — How The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

One of LEGO ® brand values is Imagination:

Curiosity asks, “Why?” and imagines explanations or possibilities (if.. then). Playfulness asks what if? and imagines how the ordinary becomes extraordinary, fantasy or fiction. Dreaming it is a first step towards doing it.

Your brand can be whatever you want to make of it. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination and dream of the possibilities. Everyone can imagine. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to use your imagination. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “He lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Imagine if he listened to that editor’s advice.

Need some inspiration on how to use and follow your imagination? Consider visiting The Art of the Brick a global touring exhibition rated by CNN as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.”.

How The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

The gallery features over 100 creations made from over one million LEGO bricks from the mind of famed contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya. Sawaya left his job as a corporate attorney in order to follow his dreams of being a full-time artist whose medium is the world’s most popular toy, the LEGO.

5. The LEGO Movie — Everything Is Awesome!!!

In 2001 LEGO was sliding towards bankruptcy due to years of expansion without creating intrinsic value. By 2004 LEGO sales had declined by 40% and had unpaid debt that was over $800 million. Management needed to face the reality that everything was not awesome. They needed to be accountable to the brand they had created. Their survival was dependent on rehabilitating their business and not sugar coating the data.

Leadership and culture changed to focus on data and proficiency. To reduce costs the number of brick designs were reduced from 14,000 to 5,000. LEGO sold off parts of the business that were draining its resources. LEGO put more focus and resources on their team. By 2013 the work was paying off. Lego reported a record profit of $869 million that year. On February 7th, 2014 Warner Brothers released The LEGO Movie. Almost a year later in February 2015, LEGO replaced Ferrari as the “World’s most powerful brand.”

“The LEGO brand is more than simply our familiar logo. It is the expectations that people have of the company towards its products and services, and the accountability that the LEGO Group feels towards the world around it. The brand acts as a guarantee of quality and originality.” -LEGO
Your brand is more than just your name

Your brand is more than just your name. Your brand is the expectations that people have of you and your accountability to the world around you. What will your brand stand for?

I want to close with some of the lines from the song from the soundtrack of The LEGO Movie, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME”.

Everything is awesome.
Everything is cool when we’re part of a team.
Everything is awesome when we’re living our dream.

For LEGO everything is Awesome! Live out your dreams. Stay focused, build your brand, and everything will be Awesome!

Thank you for reading!

-Jonathan Ernesto

If you enjoyed the article feel free to share on social media & build your brand!

Consider also following me on Twitter @JonErnesto

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