August 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
LEGO turns 80 this month and in tribute of the occasion, they have created a 17-minute animated short film sharing the history behind their iconic bricks. At 17 minutes, the film is rather long for the typical brand-inspired film, particularly considering the ever-shrinking attention span of the average person. And yet, the video has been watched by well over 2 million people. I don’t know about them, but I watched the entire video. All 17 minutes worth.
The film is a great example of brand storytelling done exceptional. A few of my thoughts on why:
- The founder’s story: tying any brand story back to the company’s origins (which are usually humble and involving personal hardship) tends to be interesting, especially when they are tied to a person who endured and persevered through hardships as those overcome by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of LEGO. A strong founder’s story is inspiring, relatable, and even heart-wrenching. At its best, bringing a founder’s story to life is a powerful tool in strengthening emotional attachment of fans, and establishing a tie with those who are not yet fans. LEGO’s founder is someone that fans can relate to, cheer on and hope does well… even when we know he eventually must, as we know what LEGO is today.
- Emotive story themes: Personal difficulty, perseverance, hard work, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to quality – the hallmarks of a brand that every customer can get behind, and ones that not every brand can attest to. LEGO has wrapped layer after layer of their brand story in these elements, making the extra effort to tie their commitment to quality to the craftsman story of the original wooden toys LEGO created. Smart, because carpentry is something a customer can easily relate craftsmanship to. More so than the plastic block.
- Personal narration: The film is narrated by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of Ole Kirk Christiansen. Initially, the narrator is unnoticed as just a voice, but eventually, it’s subtly and then not too subtly revealed that he’s a member of the family. Strong, because with the close familial ties to not only the founder but also LEGO, the narration, founder, and company suddenly become even more relatable and relevant. We’re listening to a man tell the story of his grandfather’s start and slow establishment of his company. Even though Kjeld is no longer the President and CEO of LEGO, it doesn’t matter. It’s still his family’s company, and as fans, we are more closely tied to his story because it is told through his eyes.
- Sincerity and authenticity: the story is told in a matter-of-fact sort of way that is approachable, simple, and authentic without any bells and whistles. Not to say that every story should be told in this way, but stories rooted in authenticity further resonate with fans. They are also more believable.
- Alignment to brand values: Alongside the story themes, which are compelling, and also selected in close alignment to LEGO’s brand values, the way LEGO’s story is told – methodically without too much excitement or embellishment – is also closely aligned to LEGO’s brand values. A brand story should always be consistent with the brand values and positioning. It seems obvious, but surprising how often it’s not well executed.
- Informative: Even for the biggest LEGO fan, the film offers you something new about the company you may not have known before. Did you know that LEGO comes from the Danish words “leg godt” for “play well”? LEGO also means “I put together” in Latin – a lucky, unplanned aspect of the name.
Apart from these aspects, the film is, of course very well executed in a Pixar-style animation. That level of quality in a video always helps.
In any case, happy 80th birthday, LEGO. I hope there are many more years of playing well to come.
May 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
Tired of waiting in the long retail lines every time you need a carton of milk? Some U.S. retail stores are including a check-out system on their shopping carts that allow customers to check out their items as they shop. So far, it looks like it’s a win-win solution for both customers and retailers. Customers are happy because they don’t need to wait in lines to pay, and the retail stores are happy because it turns out this new way to shop actually nets an average increase of products purchased by 10%. In other words, retailers are making shopping and check-out so easy that you although you might only need that carton of milk, why not pick up an extra bag of chips, fruit, and flour while you’re there?
Certainly an interesting concept that just highlights the continuing trend towards a more seamless intersection between bricks and mortar and mobile and online commerce.
Full article at The Wall Street Journal.
February 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In the wake of over 265,000 signatures collected by Open Media as of today (with the count still rising), Canada’s Conservative minority government finally spoke. The verdict: the recent ruling by CRTC to allow usage-based billing for internet services in Canada will be carefully reviewed. Both the Liberal and NDP parties have spoken out against the ruling and have urged the Conservative government to overturn the ruling.
A point of interest is that, as the Globe and Mail reports:
The government review of the decision comes about one year after Mr. Clement overturned a CRTC decision ruling that Globalive, which now operates the Wind Mobile cellphone brand, violated foreign ownership rules and couldn’t launch service. It also comes during the run-up to a looming wireless licence auction in which established and new providers will bid billions of dollars for slices of the airwaves.
Perhaps that’s cause for some hope, as the review takes place. Regardless, this is a fantastic step in the right direction. Let’s keep on pushing!
If you haven’t already, you can still sign the petition against usage-based internet billing at StoptheMeter.ca.
January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last Tuesday, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) ruled in favour of usage-based billing for internet services in Canada. What this means is that internet providers have received the green light to start charging Canadians for the internet bandwidth they use, similar to how users are currently billed for their cell phone useage. The ruling has been hotly contested by user internet advocacy groups, such as Open Media, which has since started a petition that has been signed by over 107,000 people as of today.
What’s troubling about the ruling is that the CRTC is intended to be an independent, government-sanctioned regulatory body. It’s mandate is to “ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public”, using the “objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions”. In this case, it’s really the Telecommunications Act that is the relevant Act, and if you review the objectives outlined within the Act itself (I’ve taken the liberty of including the pertinent ones below), you’ll notice the Act isn’t exactly vague about what CRTC’s telecommunications policies should support.
It is hereby affirmed that telecommunications performs an essential role in the maintenance of Canada’s identity and sovereignty and that the Canadian telecommunications policy has as its objectives
- to facilitate the orderly development throughout Canada of a telecommunications system that serves to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions;
- to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;
- to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications;
- to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective;
- to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services;