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The power of film strikes as Lego takes awesome leap to top brand

03/03/2015

Lego has suddenly become the most powerful brand in the world, but everything is definitely not awesome for Ferrari.

When it comes to brand strength, there are many factors that can push one of them to the top of the tree. Top quality products, a great heritage and fine marketing are all important factors.

The latest Brand Finance list of the most powerful names in the world is always likely to include something like Ferrari for the above reasons. After all, it has a reputation for exceptional quality. It is hugely glamorous, comes from a country where style and red-blooded manhood are synonymous, and it has distinctive, instantly recognisable features like the red racing livery and prancing horse badge.

However, while Ferrari was top last year, it is not this time. Ahead of it is a product with a somewhat different target market - Lego.

The Danish toy maker's plastic brick products are familiar enough to generations who have grown up with them and now buy the product for their own children.

Robert Haigh, the chief executive at Brand Finance, acknowledged this, saying: "Lego's underlying strength is that it appeals to both sexes, and all ages.

"Kids have an affection for playing with it and parents see it with a sense of nostalgia."

The success of Lego right now may be anything but coincidental, with adults and children alike having enjoyed the opportunity to see Lego Movie, as undisguised a piece of product placement as can have been witnessed in cinematic history. Add to that the catchy / irritating theme song "everything is awesome" and it is clear that the movie will have done plenty to bolster the brand, a view Mr Haigh agreed with.

The most notable feature of Brand Finance's list was that three of the five leading brands in 2014 - PwC, MCKinsey and Unilever - remain in the leading quintet for 2015. Indeed, PwC remains in second and Unilever is still fifth, with McKinsey dipping one place to fourth.

All that suggests something special may have happened to catapult Lego into the top spot, while Ferrari could have suffered a significant reverse.

However, that is not necessarily the whole story. Ferrari is about great cars and it would make sense that victory in either the drivers' or constructors' championships in Formula One would boost its standing. However, the last two seasons have seen little difference for the team, which was one of the also-rans in both 2013 and 2014.

By contrast, Red Bull entered the top five brands list for 2015 having been absent in 2014, despite a huge dip in its own motor racing fortunes as last year saw its leading racer Sebastien Vettel relinquish his F1 crown and the team lose the constructors' championship as Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton led the way.

That, however, may reflect a key strength of Red Bull. Unlike Ferrari, it is a diverse brand and its association with active lifestyles has spread from the race circuit to the edge of space.

So while Lego's rise might be easily explained, some of the factors explaining how some brands managed to sneak in among the ever-present biggest names could be more complex.