January 19, 2022
For many, Lego was a staple of childhood, and the interlocking plastic bricks have come to be the most popular toy ever sold. Lego currently holds several world records, including being the biggest tyre manufacturer in the world (mind you the tyres are produced for their brick build toy cars).
Along with the brick system, the Lego logo is synonymous with the brand and is one of the most recognized children's toys logos in the world. Originating in 1932, and growing steadily until this day, Lego stands for "Leg Godt" meaning "to play well" in Danish. Lego would start with wooden toys and only graduate to their famed brick build toys in 1949 (over 17 years later).
The Lego logo is made to be eye-catching and bright, with later iterations of the logo featuring a variety of bold colors.
Funnily enough, the name "Lego" would be the only constant throughout the long and storied history of Lego logos, with a total of 15 logo redesigns occurring in the company's 88-year history. In 2000, Fortune Magazine and the British Association of Toy Retailers named Lego as the "Toy Of The Century."
Branding has always been a critical component of Lego's success. While being the first to introduce the interlocking brick technology, competitors were quick to follow suit, and Lego was forced to always out progress and out-market their competitors for market share in the highly competitive children's toys market.
As Lego expanded into new markets, growing beyond northern Europe, a heavier emphasis was placed on branding, with eye-catching logos, media content, and branded products pushing Lego far above their competitors. It is this excellent execution that has led to a feeling of fun and excitement for young consumers, and a feeling of nostalgia for older fans.
1936: While founded in 1932, Lego did not release their first official logo until 1936. The logo (seen on the left) was ink stamped on the bottom of all Lego products, which, at the time, were predominantly wooden cars and trucks, with some other wooden crafted play toys as well.
A point of note here is that Lego did have a logo from 1934 to 1936, but was used exclusively for shipping labels, correspondence, and other corporate materials, but was not printed on their toys, this did not occur until the logo redesign in 1936.
The primary reason for this rebrand in 1936 was so that the logo would fit properly on the bottom of all the wooden toys Lego was making at the time. The brand name was italicized in fine lines. It was a very modest and straightforward logo, staying with the company for nearly a decade.
1939: By 1939, the company had grown to 10 employees, and a new iteration of the Lego logo was created. This version (seen to the left) was applied to the bottom of Lego produced wooden toys as a decal. This is the first time we see the distinctive block lettering on the Lego logo.
1949/1951: Lego released their first brick-based play set in 1949 under the name Automatic Binding Bricks (a subcategory of Lego products). In 1951, Lego rebranded the Binding Bricks name to Lego Mursten (translating directly to Lego Bricks in English). This move was made by Ole's son, Godtfred, who was looking to gain wider recognition for the Lego name.
As part of this rebrand, Lego introduced a new logo (seen on the left), which featured the familiar block lettering but now with the outlining that has made the Lego logo distinctive to this day.
The release of the Automatic Binding Bricks product elevated the Lego toy company above their competition and would give them a leg up for decades to come. This logo embodied the colour pallets that would come to define the Lego logo in the decades to come.
1953-1955: An experimental logo was developed during this time in two colour schemes. They both had a red word mark in a geometric sans-serif font, with one featuring a red in white outline, with the other being the red word mark on a yellow background.
1955-1959: In 1955, Lego underwent yet another logo change, with the adoption of a comic-derived font, maintaining the block lettering and character outlining. The red background was also introduced at this time, but an unfamiliar "bone symbol" was added in this iteration. This logo first appeared on some System of Play (or brick-based) playsets, and the early sets appeared to feature hand-drawn logos.
This was also the first time that Lego standardized the logo, having this single logo (seen to the left) being featured on both plastic brick-based sets and wooden play toys alike. While the "bone symbol" (which Lego never clarified the meaning behind) was somewhat of a mystery, it is clear that the inclusion of the symbol added a distinctive nature to the Lego logo, however one that proved to not resonate with consumers.
1960-1965: Starting in 1960, Lego once again changed its logo into a version more recognizable to those familiar with Lego's current look. This change featured a rectangular red background, with the elimination of the "bone symbol."
Notably, this version saw the addition of a "system" inscription in yellow being added to the logo. This change coincided with a box art design change as well, featuring brighter colors and crisper images (see the image on the left), pushing the box's look to one very similar to modern Lego playsets.
1965-1972: Lego decided to change their logo yet again in 1965, featuring a newly trademarked (but simple) Lego block lettering, and introduces a set of yellow, red, blue, white, and black coloured bars along the right side of the logo. (See photo on the left). This is the first time we see the square red logo from Lego, although the square filled with coloured bars was not carried on.
This logo featured the most colour of all the versions up until this point, indicating Lego's aim to create the most eye-catching logo possible. The rationale behind the coloured bars in the square to the right of the logo was that "it was a reflection of joy, happy playtime and passion, evoking a smile" as per Lego's comments on the topic.
1973-1998: In 1973, Lego began production and distribution of its products in North America. As part of that shift, Lego decided to redesign its logo yet again. This new logo features a design almost exactly like their current logo. This logo remains the most recognizable and famous version of the brand identity of Lego. This design eliminates the coloured bars to the right of the logo but maintains the white typeface, red background, and black/ yellow outline.
1998-Present: Finally, in 1998, Lego made some small changes to their logo, including the editing of some graphic qualities ("graphic tightening" in Lego's words) for better digital reproduction and display.
This constituted of eliminating spaces between characters, with the entire inscription being narrowed, looking neater and more professional. From this point forward, Lego has stayed committed to its logo, with the signature red, white, yellow and black colour palette remaining untouched as well as the composition and the mood of the iconic image in what is now one of the most recognized toy company logos of all time.
Font: For the majority of Lego's logo iterations, they have maintained an all caps word mark. Additionally, they have used a proprietary font designed in the house; however a fan-made "lego thick" font has been published as open-source and is as close as could be recreated to Lego's font. Similarly to the mystery "Lego font," Lego Thick font is available only in all caps. The Lego font is italicized and is inspired by "bubble fonts" popular during the period.
We were curious about how the Lego logo may have looked if it was designed using LOGO.com's professional logo generator. Using the few easy steps, we attributed the parameters, and this is what we found:
As you can see, we have a large variety of fonts and arrangements. Colour selections can be made, and the logo can be resized for a variety of applications (no need to change your logo as Lego did in 1998). Admittedly, it is difficult to forge the deep nostalgia and attachment that is now associated with Lego's logo. Still, the eye-catching colour and simple, elegant design can and has been recreated.
The Lego logo is a perfect example of how effective a simple logo can be and that a well-selected image can speak a thousand words. It has been acknowledged by those in the Lego Group, along with those outside the company, that the logo at the least assisted in the propulsion of Lego to the top of the leaderboard in terms of children's toys.
Lego's logo has undergone an extensive and storied history, starting in humble roots, and evolving along with the company and its brand identity. The use of bright colors could be considered industry-leading at the time they were introduced, giving Lego a distinctive advantage above their competition.
Lessons can be learned from the evolution of the Lego logo, principally being an openness to evolve and reposition the logo of a company in accordance with the company's development. It is important to note, however, that the adherence to the "Lego" name and character design aided in Lego's ability to edit its logo as without this continually, all brand recognition would be lost edit to write.
Another key take-away is that while there was a steady evolution in the company's logo, there was also a constant evolution in the available technology, and indicates that embracement of forefront technologies can be advantageous even in a component of a company as small as the logo.
The Lego logo has been synonymous with the brand for decades despite the evolution in design and demonstrates Lego's dexterity with their marketing approach. The use of simple design (text in a square) may seem not to differentiate itself from the competition, but the critical use of colors, especially when catering to a younger audience, was a crucial decision that Lego made well.
This allowed Lego to be highly flexible with branding and put a visual emphasis on the product while maintaining the highest levels of brand awareness possible.