3 Reasons Why the Lego Movie is Awesome Branding

Feb 17 2014

I went to see The Lego Movie on Friday, and in the words of the song that opens and closes the film, “Everything is awesome”. I loved every minute of the movie, but as well as being a great movie this is arguably one of the greatest pieces of branding you will see this year. Here are three reasons why.

Firstly, the movie is incredibly immersive and engaging. My expectations before the film were that the animation could appear unsophisticated and become quite tedious after a while, given the technology behind other modern animations. I was also concerned that the movie would be one long promo for LEGO. I was right and wrong on both counts.

The slightly clunking animation is part of the charm of the film, and its beautifully done. Even waves of water and shimmering clouds are stunningly recreated. More importantly, I think the emotional ride of the film means that viewers forget that the characters and scenes are made from plastic blocks and empathise with them, completely caught up in their world. The movie is a 100 minute advert for LEGO, sand again this doesn’t matter as the story is gripping and the emotional battle at the heart of the film is one that matters to us all (and especially to parents and kids). I was in a theatre packed with families and adults and children were all enjoying the film - there are plenty of references and jokes for adults, and more than enough to keep children entranced.

That brings me to the second point. This is a fantastic piece of storytelling. showing up many other movies (adult and children) as simply second class. The story is beautifully plotted, following a classic hero’s journey with twists and turns along the way. The characters are not cardboard cut outs but fully three dimensional (i saw the 2D version by the way) with strengths and weaknesses, revealed through their decisions and actions as in all good stories.

The movie starts as an “Overcoming the monster” plot, but ends up as a “Rags to riches” story with elements of “Quest” and “Rebirth” in the language of the seven basic plots. The key point is that the story is richly plotted, with several characters following an arc through the movie, making for strong storytelling and emotional engagement. The central ‘dilemma’ of the film is the tension between “following the rules” (safety in the group) and “being creative” (freedom of expression), the key emotional focus of the LEGO brand.

Which brings me neatly to the third point. This is a fantastic piece of brand building (excuse the pun). In Brand esSense I use LEGO as an example of a brand following The Artist archetype, driven by the urge to craft something new and helping users to be imaginative and creative. The LEGO name comes from a Danish phrase that means “play well”, and they have surpassed themselves in The Lego Movie. The whole movie (which lasts 100 minutes) is all about using your imagination from its beginning to its end.

This is no more important than in inspiring the creativity and imagination of children, which lies at the heart of the film. Can Emmet Brickowski become a “master builder” or will he always have to follow the instructions? Is unlimited individualism and creativity a good thing, or do you sometimes have to follow team rules? Should a great creation be frozen in time, or can it be recreated anew for another generation? Can Emmet the Everyman become Emmet the Master Builder?

You can watch The LEGO Movie to find out the answers. This is a fantastically entertaining movie, and a brilliant piece of branding. Once again LEGO have proved that they are ‘awesome’:

  1. building immersive experiences
  2. telling emotional stories
  3. using a consistent archetype

I guarantee that you will be singing “Everything is awesome” for a long time after seeing The Lego Movie.


Brand esSense: Using Sense, Symbol and Story to Design Brand Identity by Neil Gains

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