/ Food & Drink, Parenting

Lego, Marmite… some brands just get better with age

Brands are becoming better than celebs at reinventing themselves, with endless products, more merchandise, trendy redesigns and branching out into new mediums. But which brand does it best?

Ask my three-year-old daughter what she wants to play with, and nine times out of ten the response will be: ‘Lego!’ She only has an odd assortment of old bricks that her dad played with as a child and yet it has firmly become one of her favourite toys.

But it’s not just the retro factor that keeps kids coming back for more. It seems that everywhere I look nowadays I’m confronted with another brick to the Lego Empire, so to speak.

Lego aims for world domination

First came themed box sets, then books and all manner of merchandise. But today’s kids know the brand for taking well-known films (Star Wars, Harry Potter and Pirates Of The Caribbean, to name a few) and Legofying them in video games. Not content with that, the company now has the green light to make its first feature-length Lego movie.

World domination continued down at St Pancras station, where there was a ten foot Lego Christmas tree made from over 600,000 bricks.

Is there no end to the Lego brand? It seems not, and it’s got me thinking about how important it is for brands to continually adapt, improve and move with the times. There aren’t many doing it as well as Lego right now – its profits are up by 38% and its mini figures (minifigs) are Britain’s best-selling toy.

Who’s the king of reinvention?

Still, I can think of a couple of contenders for the best-at-reinventing-itself crown. Marmite is branching out into all sorts of other territories, for example. Among its new ranges are rice cakes, cereal bars – and even (look away now if you’re a Marmite hater) chocolate.

Then there’s the brilliant retro artwork applied to biscuit tins, mugs and wall prints, found in British homes up and down the country (including my kitchen!)

But the reinvention closest to my heart has to be the resurgence of VW camper vans. We’ve had a ’70s camper van for years and have watched as the brand has been embraced by Brits in recent years.

Not only do camper vans and Beatles grace all manner of paraphernalia, they have also been redesigned with Golf GTi water-cooled engines rather than the old air-cooled engine, making it much more reliable and economical for today’s drivers.

They don’t come cheap, and they’re not even made by Volkswagen anymore, but they have cleverly maintained the original look and feel, offering us all the best bits of the camper van (space, convenience, cool factor), without any of the worst (keeping the engine running).

So it seems that many brands are cottoning on to the fact that, just like Madonna, Take That and Lady Gaga, reinvention is the key to a long, prosperous career. Have you got any personal favourites, or would you prefer companies to just stick with what they’re good at?


Most brands don’t seem to improve – quite the opposite!

The trusted brand names of the past have become cheaper and lower in quality. Most are now made in China and not built to last.

All in all a ten foot Christmas tree is another Lego brick in the Lego corporate building wall. I think the Beatles have graced all manner of paraphernalia since 1963! It doesn’t stop me from being a huge fan of both.

I’m in the Marmite loving camp, but Marmite chocolate? My mind boggles.