LEGO sets and themes always have distinctive branding. Whether that’s a unique name or an iconic colour on the box, there is no mistaking each theme. Branding is sometimes updated for marketing purposes, and other times it completely evolves. For many larger LEGO sets that theme has been Creator Expert for nearly a decade. Yet it has now undergone a change to be called LEGO Icons, which includes sets like 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle and 10497 Galaxy Explorer. Blocks, the LEGO magazine for fans, is exploring what’s in a name.
During the 2000s, larger LEGO sets really began to take off as more pieces could be included in models and the designers experimented with scale. Many of these sets have gone on to be highly collectible, such as 10182 Café Corner, which started the Modular Building Collection. Interestingly these sets didn’t have any special branding, still sporting just the regular LEGO logo on the box.
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Moving into 2013 these bigger LEGO models were finally put under one banner – Creator Expert. 10232 Palace Cinema was the first to be released with this new labelling and the packaging had a gold label printed across one bottom corner featuring expert in bold lettering. Having this new Expert label helped to define these large sets, as well as letting fans know the model inside was going to provide a more challenging building experience.
In early 2015 this gold was briefly replaced by a star logo made from five intersecting 2×2 bricks, printed in the top corner. It looked a unique piece of graphic design yet it only appeared on two LEGO sets. By late 2015 it was outmoded and 10248 Ferrari F40 debuted the logo that would last until the end of the Creator Expert branding. This logo features a set of grey headlamp bricks arranged in a stack. It actually makes sense because to combine the bricks in real life in such a way would actually be quite a technical bit of building.
Then in 2020 the LEGO Group announced that Creator Expert was no longer going to be used in branding and instead replaced with the term 18+ and specific collection names like ‘Botanical Collection’. The LEGO Group is trying to expand the adult fan base and this rebranding was explained as to make it clearer which sets were specifically aimed at adults. Part of the rationale was also that ‘Expert’ might be offputting. Long-term fans of LEGO will know that Creator Expert did not mean you had to be an ‘expert’ builder. New fans though may have been alienated by the wording and misled into believing that someone who had never built LEGO before could not start with such a set.
However, while the black boxes introduced by 18+ stuck around, thae non-branding didn’t last either. Now the theme is referred to as LEGO Icons so that the sets can easily be found on ecommerce platforms. LEGO Icons is a much more neutral branding that can be interpreted as celebrating what the brick can do.
What this evolution shows is the importance of branding. Words have power, and they can be interpreted in many different ways, so finding the right one is challenging. Do you like the new LEGO Icons or do you think it should have stayed as Creator Expert? Let us know what you think on any of the Blocks social media channels.