Innovation shouldn’t be dramatic, against the company’s identity, Lego says

The head of marketing for Lego’s Future Lab has visited Australia, telling audiences that innovation should involve staying true to a company’s identity.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the Danish toy company’s David Gram said the company’s near-bankruptcy in 2004 – it has since recovered and last year overtook rival Mattel as world leader in sales – taught it that it shouldn’t stray from its historic roots.

The 1990s saw outside consultants advise Lego explore toys other than their brick concept, which had been around since the 1950s.

“Mattel has a huge portfolio of various products, the brand is strong,’ Gram recalled being told.

"We did action figures and all kinds of other toys and what happened was that actually the company almost went bankrupt.

After the near-death experience, the company returned to its identity. Other reasons for success, Gram told The AFR, included keeping budgets small so the prospect failure isn’t too intimidating, changing products gradually, and running low-risk pilots of new products in small, remote markets.

Marketing magazine reports that Lego’s Future Lab ideas incubator is tasked with the goal to “innovate as little as possible” from the core business, and filter out ideas that are too far removed from the Lego’s identity.

Elsewhere, CNBC reports that the Danish company has recently entered the $US 4 billion toys-to-life market, with its Dimensions product.

This combines characters used under licence, action toys made by Lego, and devices.