How to differentiate your brand when you’re number 2

If your kids dream of being a master builder when they grow up, they don’t have to move to Denmark. They can do it in Montreal. I met yesterday with members of the team responsible for the design, the production and the branding of Mega Bloks.

I went to the media tour at Mega Bloks for two reasons. I was curious to see how they make their building blocks. But the main reason why I attended this event was to know more about their branding and product development process. What I noticed through the tour was people who enjoy what they are doing.

Strangely, the two most important markets for Mega Bloks are at the opposite end of the demographic spectrum. This is how they differentiate themselves.


Their top sellers remain the big building blocks that they are known for.  Since the First Builders line targets 1 to 5 years old, Mega Bloks focus on making moms happy. If what is happening at my house is representative, Lego resonates better with dads. And it’s probably because Lego was a part of their childhood. Having said that, Mega Bloks’ latest product, the Block Scooping Wagon, is sure to please moms and dads of first builders. I wish that it existed when my boy was still a baby. Our living room would have been easier to clean.

What is cool about the Minions is that Mega Bloks produce 100  figures. Boys and girls can mix and match the accessories to create their own styled minion. Each figure comes in a mystery bag meaning that you don’t know which minion figure you buy. It feels like receiving a Kindle surprise egg without the chocolate. They make a special advent calendar edition if you want to start collecting them.

Their second market is the collector series for titles like Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty and Halo. The collector market is made of discriminating buyers, people who are looking for exact replica. In fact, one of their designers told me that every morning the design team looks at alerts to read what bloggers and members of online communities said about their products. Their work is scrutinized and they know it. This is where having new technologies and artists on staff pay off for them.

To conclude, I let Alicia Sumar, the senior brand manager for Mega Brands, share how Mega Bloks built a solid number 2 brand by focusing on product innovation.

Focusing on your strengths is the right approach. Do you have any advices to share regarding how you can differentiate your brand if you are not number 1?