LEGO – Pushing Brand Boundaries
LEGO, a world renowned Danish toy manufacturer started life back in 1934. Ole Kirk Christiansen began building wooden toys in his carpenter’s workshop. He quickly named his toy company ‘LEGO’ – Danish for “play well”. 1947 saw LEGO begin producing their toys in plastic, and shortly afterwards in 1949 adopted the building bricks we’re familiar with today from a design by British toy brick manufacturer Kiddicraft. Since this time LEGO has become a huge success with both children and adults across the globe. The following article will have a quick look at where the brand has ventured since.
LEGO and Technology
LEGO is often sourced as the inspiration for many of today’s top engineers. Expert engineers in their field will often say that designing and building in LEGO as a child is where they found their love of engineering and problem solving. As a result many engineers have come back into contact with LEGO during their careers, and some have even gone back to advise the company on new product lines. One significant product line is the LEGO Mindstorms range.
LEGO Mindstorms is a robotic range of toys available from LEGO. The products are all based around the use of a programmable brick that lives at the heart of any Mindstorms construction. This robotic brick was designed by the engineers at the MIT Media Lab. Using a LEGO Mindstorms kits a user can design, build, and programme a LEGO contraption to do a multitude of things, with latest versions including sensors able to detect light, sound, touch, and ultrasonic waves, and further sensors available separately.
LEGO and Media
LEGO have always stocked their own themed collections of LEGO products, whether they have been based around a futuristic space-port, pirates, or the medieval era. In recent years LEGO has struck up deals with Hollywood studios to produce miniature LEGO models of some of the best loved films that are coming today, and some iconic films from the past.
The first major film franchise to partner with LEGO was ‘Star Wars’, which began in 1999 and has since been a huge success for the company. The latest licensed theme to be confirmed by LEGO is the production of a range of products based on ‘The Lord of the Rings’, specifically the new ‘Hobbit’ movie.
LEGO have, since 2005, taken some of the licensed themes a little further than just LEGO bricks and the traditional products. 2005 saw the release of ‘LEGO Star Wars’ the video game. Since then numerous other licensed LEGO games have been released, each on in a ‘platform’ style. The aim of the LEGO games is to complete linear levels, collecting virtual LEGO coins and bricks along the way. There is always a host of characters available from whichever franchise the game is from, always in LEGO form of course!
Approaching video games was a excellent move by LEGO, who have realised that children’s playtime habits have moved into virtual worlds to some extent, and now LEGO has a clear and definite presence in that virtual world.
LEGO and Fashion
Now a toy manufacturer may not be the perfect partner to team up with fashion items you may say, however LEGO appear to have found a niche audience. Children’s clothes, adorned with original LEGO and licensed designs are incredibly popular. One of the most successful LEGO fashion ranges is footwear.
LEGO designs feature on at least two iconic footwear brands’ shoes. Firstly there’s Crocs. The Crocs Crocband LEGO clog is available for children and is adorned with bright colours and LEGO brick styling. These shoes are still very much Crocs shoes however as they are still produced by Crocs themselves and out of Croc’s trademark material, Croslite.
The second major footwear brand to have a range of LEGO shoes is Kickers. Kickers produce both baby and infant shoe designs with distinct LEGO elements incorporated. These elements of course include the iconic LEGO brick motif and LEGO studs.
I’m sure that in the coming years LEGO will continue to adapt and branch out into brand new areas of business, taking a classic toy design boldly into the future.
- Photograph by Bill Ward (via Flickr) [CC BY 2.0]
- Photograph by Marlon J. Manrique (via Flickr) [CC BY 2.0]
For an excellent collection of adult Crocs Crocbands head to the wonderful My Amazing Shoes online store!