Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Brands like Lego are highly dependent on brand communities.  Understandably, as ‘sense of community’ is one of the major tenants of self-definition. Moreover, belonging to the "group" can give meaning and association (as well as emotional safety, a sense of belonging, and identification.  LEGO learned along the way that these social constructs hold more brand-building potency than any other form of communication. 

Long before the LEGO company's official website went live in 1995, the group noticed that hundreds of sites, created by LEGO fans all over the world, were already live. Most sites paid tribute to the brand and expressed values the company just wouldn't have been able to claim themselves with such credibility. LEGO didn't really know how to take the situation. The company's culture had, until 1995, been focused on preventing anyone using its brand name. This attitude helped the company survive through the eighties when hundreds, if not thousands, of competitors tried to imitate the well-known plastic bricks. On one hand, the sites that were popping up on the web were misusing the brand's identity and name. On the other hand, they gave LEGO a type of positive exposure that the brand could never communicate itself.  By the late nineties, this exposure had helped LEGO attain cult status among teenagers who proclaimed their admiration.  In Japan, for example, the brand even became such a hit that the product could even be purchased in the hottest clothing stores.

LEGO had such potent brand spirit that its consumers adopted the badge as their own - forming brand communities that provide permanent testimonial to the excellence of these brands.  LEGO consumers have assumed stewardship of the brand, and as such do a great deal of the communication work for them as part of an extended brand community.

Staying Relevant
Lego Group has been smart about keeping its brand relevant among kids, as potential distractions have increased substantially since the Lego building blocks hit the market more than 60 years ago. The company has attached the Lego brand to a variety of popular, critically acclaimed video games based on the "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones" and "Batman" franchises. There's even an iPhone app called Lego Photo for making digital pictures colorful and blocky.

Lego has also recently added a bit of technological wizardry to drive foot traffic into its stores. The toy manufacturer is setting up augmented reality stations in its more than 50 shops worldwide. Customers can pull a Lego package off the shelf, hold it in front of the Digital Box kiosk and see an animation on the screen of the completed Lego project overlaid on the box in their hands. A camera interfaces with the screen to pull off the augmented reality trick and it seems to be an effective way of using high-tech gizmos to wow mall shoppers into buying a thoroughly low-tech construction kit.

As we’ve mentioned many times recently, augmented reality is one of the more popular technologies recently, and now even Lego boxes are getting the augmented reality treatment. The boxes were created by the Danish toy company and augmented reality experts.   Users simply  hold up the LEGO box and the QR code will activate the augmented reality feature, showing you a 3D model of the Lego kit inside. If you twist and turn the box around, the 3D image twists and turns accordingly too, allowing you to see how it’ll look like from all angles.   

Watch a video of Lego’s AR effort or check out the supporting website.

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