Oops, they did it again.
This is not the first time that Lego has innovated something completely unthinkable. When it comes to product innovation, Lego are the masters. Even some of the brightest minds in the world play with Lego. They also have product lines supporting design thinking and serious-play to be used in business related workshops. Many articles and case studies have been written about Lego’s miracle of innovation. Feel free to take a look at some of the most popular ones; MIT Sloan, Harvard Business School, IMD.
But much more innovative and remarkable is their business model innovation capabilities. Lego moved into movies, they partner with other top brands like Harry Potter, Marvel, and even Star Wars. Lego is used in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) competitions in schools on a global scale. First Lego League participation fosters creativity, teamwork, and elevates young people towards top universities.
Lego also opened up innovation and let the end-user design their own creations. Lego Ideas is a portal where you can upload your own design. The response has been phenomenal. Contests and prizes stimulate engagement. The best ideas are turned into Lego products. Just one example is “The Office” set showing off a miniature version of the office space and characters from the Emmy award winning show.
What has digital got to do with Lego?
Lego is a physical toy. It’s just great. You get your kids away from screens. They can play with it on their own or in groups. It fosters their creativity. Once they have built it, they can play with it. When they are bored, they can tear it apart and turn it into something else. This is the beauty of Lego. This metaphor is even used in software to illustrate components and how to stick them together.
But nowadays kids love their mobile phone as well. And they can become quite creative with those devices. Lego embraced augmented reality and digitally transformed the Lego toy playing experience. Now you can animate and tell stories with the static physical toy you just built and see it moving and flourishing and much more. And it is not only kids that love this latest addition, but adults are also amazed by this experience, called Hidden Side.
Let’s have a look at what is happening here. Lego still provides their customers with a commodity plastic toy. Customers build it, play a little with it, and then get bored, either leave it alone in a corner or tear it apart and turn it into something else. Here comes the twist. With the mobile app, you can animate your creation, you can build stories around it, and most importantly you can share your stories, and even group play with the app.
Lego describes itself as an educative toy, which it truly is. Kids not only build 3D environments, but now they can also create stories, turn them into videos, and share them with their friends, around the globe. This is truly awesome. Storytelling is a great capability the next generation needs for their future careers. And mobile phones are more than just a device for consuming social media, they are easily turned into a device for content creation. Lego mastered this combination very nicely.
Lego and music? What is this about?
Animating Lego tools and shooting creative videos makes a lot of sense, because that’s yet another way for kids to play with the tool. Now, they can share it with their friends and play virtually together. Imagine the days of Covid lockdowns. Adults were very happy when their kids were able to entertain themselves.
But what about music? Lego and music? Seems a bit farfetched. But Lego have done it again. An unexpected innovation lies in “Beatbits.” Lego partnered with Universal Music and created yet another app called Lego Vidiyo. Now kids can create their own music, shoot a video clip of it, and share it with their friends, even the whole world.
So, there is very few Lego bricks and toys involved, but to participate some Lego is required. There is a mobile application, which recognizes those special bricks, called “Beatbits.” They create amazing visual and audio effects. Sure, there is a commercial advantage for Lego, since those kids who like this will ask for more Beatbits. But the most important part is that Lego floats around social media with Lego enabled videos. What a great idea.
Lessons learned and recommendations
Why are we writing about this? Firstly, because I love playing with Lego. Secondly, because Lego is truly one of the most innovative companies on the planet. Thirdly, since we are passionate about digital transformation, we are always looking into digital novelties to share with our readers.
But most importantly, what is happening here is truly amazing. With just one little innovation, Lego can create a ripple effect. Kids play with these toys and include their mobile phone into the playing experience. They share their creations with friends, family, and the wider world via digital channels. The playing experience is augmented, the sharing experience is enabled, the long-tail is created, and the fandom is established.
Lego does a lot of digital marketing, but their customers do much more. Lego offers a lot of product innovation, but their customers provide much more. Lego tells a lot of stories, but their customers tell many more.
How can you embrace this kind of a situation? Make your customer use your product, provide an additional something on top of it, and get them sharing it with the whole world. How great is that?
Very few brands are as lucky (or brilliant) as Lego. Maybe Nike, Apple, and some other brands stimulate users to do something awesome with their products and share it with the world. Endless free digital marketing. Extreme loyalty and engagement for no additional investment. User-generated content and recommendations for other users, for free.
Running some creative workshops around this topic is certainly worthwhile, to ideate how digital capabilities can be leveraged to augment your core products and services. If you are wondering how strong your digital innovation capabilities are, just get in touch with us. We measure and benchmark your digital maturity and help you accelerate your digital journey.