What brands can learn from playing with LEGO

I was recently at the Digital Content Summit in London, immersing myself in the latest trends and insights. There were many reassuring headlines, such as: 'content is key to social conversations', 'brands need to prepare to be publishers', 'video delivers impact', 'make your content work across devices' and 'think what's in it for the consumer'. All good stuff, but not necessarily news to us here at Code...

Then I was struck by the genius of a LEGO brick, or rather their charismatic Head of Community Campaigns and Content, Peter Espersen. Peter took us back to a not so fruitful time for the company, the mid-00's, when I imagine many of their fans (and products) where literally all alone and isolated, locked away in playrooms, bedrooms, basements and attics, around the world. That was until they moved to operate what they called a 'value trading ecosystem', one that actively engages consumers in product development and marketing via websites and initiatives like CuuSoo and Rebrick.

Through this approach, LEGO are encouraging fans to put forward ideas for new toys whilst also giving them a home to showcase their own amazing creations and stories. As long as there's no logo on show, the lawyers are happy, and the fans can carry on sharing their love of LEGO.

This provides their fans with a place to come together and also inspires some of LEGO's new and dynamic marketing campaigns and content.

It's also showing great insight and bravery on LEGO's part. This is resulting in massive rewards as the content produced by the company is being inspired by the fans, and is in turn resonating with them more than ever before.

So much so that visible online fan love must have played a part in the decision to produce a LEGO movie; Peter alluded to the fact the fans could have even been consulted in its creation, and there was even a competition to create a scene that was featured in the film -- a pretty amazing prize for any dedicated LEGO fan.

How many brands do we see embracing their consumers in this way? Too few, in my humble opinion. At the summit I also heard that some brands are still afraid of social media and this fear is coming down from the boardroom, where executives who are inexperienced in this area are holding their companies back. It's a shame, really as Yo! Sushi also demonstrated how social media is really engaging fans to make them feel both love and ownership in that brand, whilst also increasing sales and delivering hardline results.

I'll let Eddie Izzard have the final word with his fan created LEGO animation 'Death Star Canteen'.


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