The Best Example of Brand Storytelling Ever: The Lego Movie

post by YIN GU and Eason Chan (Group 18)


We hear lots of talk these days about the power of “ storytelling ”—and why it’s so critical for businesses and brands as we continue to rush forth in the digital age.

But like so much of this other stuff we yap about in the marketing and branding realm,storytelling has always been important . It has been the essence of the greatest and most successful communicators since the beginning of man.

Socrates was a good one.

Jesus was even better.

Ben Franklin was masterful.

Dale Carnegie was genius.

The list goes on and on.

But today, stories, when used properly, not only give “soul” to a brand, but can also supercharge their overall branding and marketing efforts.

And no better example have I ever seen of this than The Lego Movie that was just released by Warner Bros. As I sat in the theater this evening to a packed house along with 3 of my children, I marveled at what I was witnessing. Kids laughed. Adults chuckled. Everyone was thoroughly entertained. All because a brand had managed to create a masterful story, using their product as the star, and at the same time created what is t he most effective 90 minute commercial for a “toy” we ‘ve ever seen.

In fact, an hour after we had returned from watching the movie, two of my kids walked out of their bedroom, each with a newly-built Lego ship. (This after not having touched their Legos for months.)

A few minutes later, my 11-year old son made a simple statement to his mother:

“Mom, I need a new Lego set.”

And that, my friends, is how to tell a story and induce your customers to action.

Sure, making people feel good when they hear or read a story is nice, but making them spend their money is ultimately what it’s all about—at least if we’re being honest with ourselves.

The Simplicity in How Lego Did It

But the reaction of my kids is no surprise really. If one analyzes the film, it’s quite apparent what makes it so very effective:

1. It’s actually a good movie—incredibly well written— for kids and adults.

2. The product is the entire movie. Every scene is masterfully created with Legos.

3. There are deep messages happening within the movie, all of which are uplifting and easy to get behind:

-There is a “builder” within each one of us if we only believe

-We’re only as limited as our imagination allows us to be

-You’re never too old to create magic

This is exactly why Lego has hit such a huge home run with this movie, which is quickly becoming the mecca of “story telling done right” for brands big and small going forward.

Stop Selling “Stuff”

You see, Lego doesn’t see themselves as a company that simply makes little blocks that can be turned into bigger objects.

Rather, Lego understands their bigger purpose —one of challenging the minds of people young and old to create, imagine, and go beyond what they believe is possible.

In fact, Lego doesn’t sell “blocks” at all, they sell possibilities .

It is my firm belief that every brand and business needs to find their inner Lego, as it’s certainly within each one of us.

We can sell “things,” or we can sell so much more—something with meaning, depth, and purpose.

So my hat tips to Lego for thinking so far ahead of the storytelling curve, and it’s my hope that this is just the beginning…


10 thoughts on “The Best Example of Brand Storytelling Ever: The Lego Movie

  1. Very interesting post!
    Lego has always been very effective at brand storytelling. I agree with you that since its foundation, Lego has been based not on selling small plastic bricks, but on selling creativity, imagination and an experience. Lego has probably inspired thousands of future engineers, architects, designers and film-makers.
    My two-year-old daughter loves Lego building and so does my husband. Every time we walked by ToysRus or Target, they would go straight to the shelves where Lego were placed on. There was also an exhibition about Lego pieces three weeks ago, with many workshops for different age groups where people can build blocks and splash imagination and I am pretty sure that these have inspired many Lego followers.
    Lego movie was released last year and it soon attracted much attention. It will be very interesting to see how Lego movie influences the future direction of brand marketing and impacts the global sales of Lego.
    The idea is that the product isn’t the reason that people feel compelled to purchase, but it is what the product allows them to do that is inspiring. Also, understanding what motivates customers to actually buy is critical to getting brand storytelling right. For Lego, its product is about inspiring young people to come up with amazing creations, make up their own stories and to let their imagination run free.


  2. Great post. I haven’t seen the Lego movie but can imagine they have done a superb job of telling a story and selling the brand to yet another new generation. My two were into Lego for the Star Wars theme and the Indiana Jones themes – if it has now moved on to making movies of their own I guess it doesn’t need the links to the other popular movies as much anymore. It’s a great marketing technique to entertain a generation or three into buying the product. Even though my two are now well in their teens and might not admit as much to their peers, I doubt they would let go of their Lego just yet. Lego has survived and been revived by so many generations it’s almost become a ubiquitous house hold item for those of us with children. I agree – while Lego itself might be little plastic building blocks – it is offering/selling the creativity, adventure, entertainment and even memories for those of us who played with it when we were growing up – what a great marketing strategy!


  3. An interesting post that clearly reveals a clear brand strategy of the danish company LEGO. It will be very interesting to debate here which was the main intention of LEGO… Marketing or Branding??? Reading different articles and reviews of Marketing experts, it can be concluded that there is a huge differentiation between this two strategies and can be defined as the following: Branding is strategic. Marketing is tactical. The Marketing strategy will clearly contribute to a brand to increase the Top of Mind but it is clear that the brand will not be the relevant component in the Marketing Strategy, because simply the brand will tell you how loyal can a customer can be. The brand perception is the result of the experiences lived by users in the usage of the product or the service in pro or against. Since the TV ad, the package and the store guy that sells the product, the brand in positively or negatively affected. It doesn’t surprise me the success of LEGO movie, touches each user in such a subtle way, that the result can not be different of loving the brand.
    Great reflection that make us think if all the brands can be able to implement a branding strategy without invading the buyers.


  4. Very Interesting post…
    Brand storytelling goes beyond just marketing a product. It pulls the strings of our inner creativity. Brand storytelling takes our imagination to a different realm with little or no limitations. It allows us to envision and acknowledge that those young and old can be innovators. Lego is not about selling blocks, it is about giving access to the possibilities of what can be achieved one block at a time. It gives the satisfaction of knowing that if what is built falls down, the opportunity to rebuild something greater presents itself. Once greatness is achieved, it motivates us to excel beyond what was initially imagined. Marketing possibilities, instead of product alone, sets the tone for a continuous success.
    #Kudos- Lego marketing team


  5. I liked the movie as well. I never picked up the connection with there being a builder in all of us. Your observations made reflect on my own kids reactions. To my 10 year old his experience of Lego has been the ‘set’ that you buy- Lego City is his thing. Interestingly the idea of creating your own models was not something he associated with using Lego. Rather you buy the set you like – build it and then play with it. The Lego Movie reflected by experience of LEGO – sets of blocks that you create and invent with. When I was 10 you bought LEGO as containers of blocks with some pointers on what you could build with them. I wonder if LEGO’s more recent focus on themed sets has unwittingly undermined its original value as a creative toy for invention and play. Also have to say the movie reminded me of the fun I had with LEGO.


  6. Great insight guys! I haven’t seen the movie & like Lynette’s comment on story telling & branding for a new generation. My son was into LEGO & still has the massive Star Wars X wing fighter he got for his 21st! (Bit of a nerd). LEGO seem to tick all the boxes, engage with customers (old & new) sell possibilites & do it in such a way that people are prepared to pay money to watch a 90 minute LEGO Ad!! pardon the cynic in me!


  7. Interesting post, well done.

    It’s interesting how people can be SO turned off by product placement in film and TV – yet as you say, this was a 90 minute commercial that people paid money to see … and then spent money on after the fact buying the product.

    We’ve seen TV/film characters turned in to toys over and over again, but toys turned in to film characters is quite new. The concept is genius, and you’re a correct in saying they got it right, however I wonder if any copy-cat movies would work as well?


  8. The Lego Movie is great subject for a blog, as a brand we can all relate to it, and as adults some of us still do. Lord Business’s evil plot to superglue Lego together with ‘kragle’, goes against the laws of physics.

    As branding goes we know Lego, as its everywhere. In regard to the Movie does anyone know who made the movie?

    Brick-by-brick: how Animal Logic crafted The LEGO Movie
    Refer to this blog:

    As Animal Logic has an office at Fox Studios lot in Moore Park, Sydney.

    Brand connection and The Lego Movie – what’s going on?
    Lego is extending its brand through this “brand connection” to generations of children, even further than it had before.


  9. A great and insightful read! I have seen the movie and loved it. It was effective in telling many stories about the LEGO brand – both directly and indirectly. It certainly resonated with both my husband and I – both big LEGO fans as kids.

    The current McDonalds TV ads are another good example of brand story telling (although I will concede not half as good as LEGO). For those who have not seen it, it tells the story of McDonalds specific to Australia – when it all started and how it has evolved to meet the needs of Australians (did you know McCafe started in Australia?). Although I am not a huge McDonalds fan, I liked the story and the Australian references. I think it is an effective way to rebuild the brand. It will be interesting to see what impact it has.


  10. Great insight reading,Lego are masters at transmedia storytelling.Lego’s brand stories are communicated on TV, Cinema, Magazines, Online, Video Games.Consistent storytelling flows throughout all their brand and their customers -kids aged 5-12- are always inspired to be the heroes.By adopting a transmedia storytelling strategy, Lego managed to future-proof its business from cheap imitators for years to come.Lego beckoned to everyone’s inner 8 year-old child, so that even adults loved this film. It was funny and smart, but also playful and imaginative. Its themes were creativity, belief in oneself, and staying in tune with your inner child. That is what Lego sold with this film – not the Legos themselves: the idea of what Legos represent.


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