The entire Lego brand as it’s known today was built on a simple foundation 60 years ago: one, small, plastic brick, 31.8mm long by 15.8mm wide, with eight studs in two rows of four. By the 1960s, Europe was seeing mass relocation from rural areas to towns and the toy sets started to reflect society’s increasing urbanization: One of the first Lego sets was a town plan that helped children learn about road safety.
There are now more than 3,700 different types of pieces, from mini figures to tubes and accessories such as wheels and swords and more than 900 million building combinations are possible with just six bricks of the same color.
Bricks are made at Lego’s Billund factory, where there are 12 manufacturing modules. Within those are 65 molding machines, all creating millions of pieces, and the factory is run autonomously. Fans of the brand can do a two-day Lego Inside tour of the factory and Kristiansen’s original house, as well as build with its designers, for 14,500 Danish crowns ($2,396).
“Lego is a very mission-driven company. The family is very clear about the mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, to reach more kids, and they’re super dedicated to that”
Julia Goldin – Chief Marketing Officer, Lego
Today, the company’s mission is “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” a phrase often repeated by Christiansen and Goldin.
“Lego is a very mission-driven company. The family is very clear about the mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, to reach more kids, and they’re super dedicated to that,” Goldin told CNBC by phone. But it’s not just about selling more bricks to more kids: the company says that playing with Lego is about education as well as creativity.
“It’s about problem solving. It’s about collaboration. It’s about acquiring skills that will help them to be stronger and more successful in the world … We believe that we have a massive role to play in the lives of children in terms of their development,” Goldin stated at its results presentation. The firm also has a foundation that promotes early childhood education.
Lego’s Vice President of Digital Consumer Engagement Peter Kim, who spoke at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London in March, said this mission creates a strong internal culture, as well as an external message. “The culture is quite strong. Anyone can tell you what the mission and vision are. We have a goal to reach 300 million children by 2032: these are the things that people who come to (work at Lego) understand and know,” he said.
Being a private company also helps. “We can really kind of stick to (the mission), even when times are not so good, and when times are good, it gives us a north star to focus on,” Kim stated.