LEGO made its first brick in 1958 and has been building ever since, but not without difficulty. Facing major competition from interactive electronics and computer games, the Danish company almost crumbled into bankruptcy in the late 1990’s. Then LEGO redesigned the brand blueprints, with a little help from its amateur architects.
With a new CEO, LEGO redirected its energies from disjointed licensing agreements to meaningful brand extensions. Most recently, they teamed up with Adam Reed Tucker of Brickstructures, Inc. to create LEGO Architecture, a series of miniaturized landmarks from international skylines. These partnerships are strategically aimed to appeal to a wider demographic and popularize the brand among collector, architect and artist alike.
LEGO also began listening to and learning from the consumer. Brand fanatics all over the world are using the little plastic bricks to make stunning, original masterpieces:
As well as pop culture recreations they share through social media:
Inspired by their creations, LEGO moved from extending the brand and targeting new audiences to co-creating brand meaning with consumers.
The company developed the LEGO Factory, which allows customers the ability to design and share virtual models through their social networks, then order the custom set from the LEGO website.
And now, to counter the competition from online games, the company is building LEGO Universe, giving fans a virtual world in which to build and live among their unique creations.
The effect — LEGO has become a language of creativity and imagination, shared worldwide among its most passionate consumers.
LEGO’s transition, from brand extension, to adoption of customer innovation, to co-creation of brand meaning, is a powerful case study on the impact of social media in the shaping and evolution of a brand. LEGO reimagined, listened and acted, rebuilding its business by naming the consumer brand foreman.
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