Most parents can attest that children form unusual fixations throughout their childhood. In my son’s case, the number of fixations were countless. Having read a few parenting books, I understood that this behavior was quite common and in many instances, critical to his development. So, being the designated cheerleader in our household, I painstakingly supported him through each phase.
I took this role very seriously and was the pillar of patience when forced to endure countless viewings of Bear in the Big Blue House and Toy Story. And although I would never admit this in person, I know the lyrics to every Wiggles song recorded prior to 2010.
I’ve had a front-row seat to many “living room” concerts starring my six-year-old son as he morphed into a pint-sized version of Garth Brooks complete with jeans, Stetson, cowboy boots and acoustic guitar, while pouring his heart and soul into singing a highly emotional and often off-pitch version of “Your Song.”
As he grew older, his fixations turned to intense obsessions and “collecting” was introduced to the equation. From Star Wars, Comic Books, Harry Potter, the Simpsons and most recently – Legos. The more I indulged him, the more extreme the collecting and coveting would be.
Every time he would show interest in something new, I would fear another obsession coming on. Luckily, Legos have seemed to hold his attention.
For the past five years, my son has consistently asked for one thing for his birthday, and Christmas – Legos. He loved big, complicated sets with thousands of pieces as much as he liked purchasing a used lot of bricks and building his own creations. He also loved the minifigures. Every year my husband and I would try and find an increasingly challenging set that would take the entire break to complete. But within a few hours or at most a day, he would emerge victorious, proving us wrong again.
When my son’s Lego obsession began, my husband and I loved helping him build things and would revel in the satisfaction on his face after he completed his “masterpiece” with his own two hands. Maybe it was our love for the colorful pieces, and the abstract interpretations of the Batcave or the Death Star, or maybe it was the solitude that was achieved as we would all lose ourselves in something we enjoyed doing.
But then I realized, that it was the idea of Legos that I admired most. Lego has come up with a brilliant strategy to get their message across and market it in a clever, non-intrusive and subtle way by ensuring that anyone, anywhere in the world could pick up the exact same Lego set, put it together, and make it look the same.
Each set comes with instructions that have no words, just pictures of each step. If you can comprehend the difference between two pictures, you can build with Legos. Lego’s adoption of the English idiom, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” accurately depicts how this approach makes even the most intricate builds appear incredibly easy to achieve.
It dawned on me that Lego’s instructions were an abbreviated, yet perfect example, of visual brand storytelling. While just a single image, wouldn’t typically qualify as visual brand storytelling, it’s the fact that all of Lego’s images manage to take a complex concept and distill it into one simple message that aligns with their own brand image: everyone can build something.
However, instructions aren’t the only home run for Lego. Lego also released a movie (the sequel will be released in 2018) with well-written script and a likeable and relatable story that appeals to young and old, alike. Every scene is masterfully created with Legos. Some people describe the Lego movie as one of the best examples of brand storytelling ever. Deep and meaningful storytelling messaging are shared throughout the movie that are intended to be uplifting and easy to rally behind. Three of the most positive messages are:
- 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
Attitude may be the biggest contributing factor to Lego’s success. They don’t define themselves by who they are but by what they do. They challenge the minds of people young and old to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future – experiencing the endless human possibility.
So, if you are struggling to build your own version of brand storytelling, dig deep, and discover your own inner Lego. Don’t cling to who you are but what you could be. The possibilities are endless.