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Exclusive with Alexander Usachev


Stankevicius interviews marketing experts from various industries to get a unique perspective and in-depth professional insights about the ever-changing marketing industry including important roles of advertising and public relations.

This time we interviewed Alexander Usachev who is a senior brand manager at LEGO group. See what Alexander has to say about marketing.

You have been in branding for over a decade and worked with major companies. In your experience, is there a single general module for branding which could be applied to every company or must there be individual customizations for each company?

I’m happy that I had opportunities to work with very different types of businesses, company structures, and cultures.

In the Russian environment, you can call all companies “fast moving,” because this is the way we develop businesses here, and also survive in the currently super competitive market. Based on that I would say I am using 60% - 80% of my experience in all businesses. I have a couple of my favorite techniques which I learned ten years ago and always use them in the industry.

Still branding itself can be pretty different and depends on various factors such as product itself, company goals and global business model. But I would say the most interesting and the coolest part is testing and learning from one business and product and applying learnings to another; this can bring amazing results and better performance.

As you have worked in LEGO for almost seven years, what has been the most exciting marketing project for you?

In the LEGO company, every project is exciting. You can see that some themes or sub-themes like LEGO City are relaunched in certain periods. Entertainment and learning environment for kids is changing very fast. There is always a good part of newness in both product and communication. The best case for me was launching LEGO Movie 1 and LEGO Movie 2. In both projects, we have built a sizeable cross-functional project with global teams and movie distributors, and worked with several agencies, so the scale brought us much beyond toys business.

Have you experienced any difficult moments when you felt that branding strategies might not be working right and you might need something new and innovative to come up with? If so, how did you worked that out?

In one of my previous job we were stuck with a simple, but at the same time difficult issue as the product was very premium to existing competitors’ products, although the quality was matching the price, there was no media budget, and all in-store communications were numeric and functional based on global approach.

So we came with a very fresh and simple solution, a turned in-store communication from functional to emotional, made a special New Year sleeves design for boxes, which was colorful and with short holiday phrase.

Results were outstanding, and retailers started building pyramids with our boxes, we were always in the traffic area, received “earned” communication, etc.

The question is – does it change with digitalization? And the answer is – not so much. Tools are changing, your product may change, but you should always try to stick to what the audience wants and balance it with your goals.

What are your most favorite marketing channels that you use the most for your projects? And what marketing channels, in general, would you recommend for companies to utilize as best ways to reach out to consumers?

There is one answer to your questions. The best marketing channels which are the ones which provide the best awareness and people reach. It is necessary to have an opened mind to see something extraordinary and different that you can apply with the least cost possible. And the direction here is the audience-oriented approach.

How much advertising do you usually use for projects, what types of adverts do you do, and where do you place them?

It always depends on the project, but I can say that at LEGO company we try to build a long term communication strategy with some flexibility in case we need to make short term adjustments, or if new opportunities appear. Of course, we use TV and digital placements, but when it is efficient, we also use OOH and radio. This is the key to sustainable growth and brand support.