September 27, 2010

LEGO v. Harry Potter – Be dogged about your brand experience

I have two boys, one seven and one two. LEGO is all over our house: literally, pieces of World Racers and Power Miners on my dining room table, the bus and people who ride the bus on my floor, the word “LEGO” is one of the 30 words my two year old states repeatedly. We love LEGO in my house.

We love it because it is brilliant – methodical in approach, clear in direction, surprising in its outcome. It is creative and encourages open play. Kids of all ages can tear apart their models and mash them up with other sets.

We also love “Harry Potter” but for different reasons. Brilliant character development, rich storytelling that captures the imagination and pulls you in when you don’t want to be pulled out, a plot that thickens over time.

Over the past year, I went to LEGO KidsFest and Harry Potter exhibit. One excelled, one misfired.

Coming off of LEGO Kidsfest in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston this weekend, I am still exhausted. The “exhibit” “show” or whatever it should be labeled, was the most unorganized, unimpressive event I have ever attended. There were too many people, there was no organized flow of the experience, there was no rich education, there was none of the things I associate with the LEGO brand.

On the other hand, the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science earlier this year was stellar: tightly run, organized flow and controlled, rich in content, powerful in impact.

Rich, wonderful brands should not let go of their brand experience. It is clear that Harry Potter held on tight and it paid off. LEGO, on the other hand, was a mess. They threw a few ideas and a few works of art into a room and had people go at it. Don’t even get me started about why there were automobile, newspaper, radio and other toy companies present. It was unorganized and frustrating.

Be dogged about your brand experience. Letting go may have short-term financial benefits, but it has long-term damage to the brand.


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