The History of LEGO®

We all know those little, colored blocks. They have an easy design that is accessible to a wide variety of audiences, and an ever-expanding brand that continually grows and evolves. They’re fun, they’re simple, they’re versatile, and to many, they’re nostalgic. They’re LEGO®.

According to their website, the LEGO® Company was founded by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in Billund, Denmark, in 1932. During its early years, the business was nothing more than a simple carpenter’s shop selling household items and wooden toys.

In 1934, LEGO® adapted its current name. The name was derived from the Danish words “Leg godt,” which translates to “play well.” As the company evolved, they increased construction of various wooden toys. By 1946, the company had begun creating wooden and plastic bricks. However, their market remained solely in Denmark.

Throughout the 1950s, LEGO® continued to expand, developing its patented and now-classic interlocking “stud-and-tube” design, The company began selling in other countries, and utilized new technologies to make production more efficient. Later, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of Ole Kirk Kristiansen and next head of the company, added technology to toys by using mechanical and electronic elements such as automatic toy cars.

In 1989, after developing a wide variety of products, starting LEGOLAND®, and expanding the company’s reach even further, Ole Kirk Kristiansen was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, beside icons such as Walt Disney and Merill Hassenfeld, former CEO of Hasbro.

By the 1990s, LEGO® was one of the top 10 largest toy manufacturers in the world. However, throughout the next 10 years the company faced several huge deficits. Despite losses, LEGO® continued to grow, becoming the world’s fifth largest toy manufacturer by 2009. The company was so successful, that over the next 10 years it more than quadrupled its revenue.

Today, the Kristansen family remains at the head of the company.  LEGO® has become a household name, with products ranging from its classic bricks to books to movies. Its products are now sold in 130 countries, with a worldwide average of seven sets sold each second, according to The Telegraph. Its success is likely thanks to its innovative strategy, which has put LEGO® ahead of the curve. But what exactly makes LEGO® so innovative?

According to The Washington Post, the first key piece in LEGO®’s innovative approach is its utilization of new technologies. Its willingness to experiment with emerging technologies throughout its existence has been a key part in the company’s success. Without a technological evolution in its range of products, LEGO® would not have been nearly as successful. Even in the digital age, with toy stores facing a steep decline in sales, LEGO® has been able to maintain a loyal consumer base thanks to their technological evolution.

LEGO® also innovates in its interaction with and empowerment of its consumers. LEGO® has embraced its audience by creating a platform for creativity and encouraging fans to share their work with the world. Through crowdsourcing, competitions, and many other strategies, LEGO® has harnessed the power of the consumer and technology in order to expand its influence.

Lastly, LEGO® has been innovative in their ability to spot and capture new and emerging markets. As their global reach expands, they continually watch for the next place to sell their products, and successfully pinpoint places where their toys will meet interest. Even today, LEGO® intends to expand into new markets, which will only extend their reach – and success – even further.

*The Leonardo is NOT affiliated with LEGO®