Steve Woodruff over at Sticky Figure recently posted the story of “A Boy and his Legos.” It’s a sweet, simple tale of a boy who, on his 7th birthday, receives a cool new box of Legos that, once assembled, is supposed to be one of those exciting and intricate “outer-space thingamajig’s.” But when the box was opened, the boy and his parents find that there are bags of precious blocks missing!

I can see it. In seconds, and with innocent passion and excitement, the birthday wrapping is obliterated with a flurry of glee and breathless expectation. The laminated and embossed photos on the box virtually promise of hours – if not a lifetime – of excitement and imaginative adventures in outer space. And emblazoned on the box, no smaller than 3” square, is the big, red, “Lego®” logo – promising quality, creativity and adventure for everyone. But as the box top is flung over the coffee table onto the sleeping dog, the contents – or lack thereof – holds nothing but disappointment.

What a heartbreaking experience.

So, say you’re the parents of that little boy. What do you do?

1) Apologize to your sobbing son and chalk it up to another flub of the commercial marketing machine.
2) Take the box back to Super-Mega Mart and hope they’ll take an opened box return?
3) Apologize (again) to your sobbing son and write a scathing post on your blog, Twitter and Plurk about the negative experience, comment on toy / consumer blogs and forums about how Lego’s piracy scarred your son and how he’ll never be an architect or fighter pilot because of the experience?!?
4) Create a consumer action group and file a class action lawsuit against Lego®?
5) Call Lego® and ask for replacement packets or a new box altogether?

Let’s say you work at Lego® and this problem confronts you. How do you handle it?

1) Ignore it. The box has shipped and there’s nothing you can do about it?
2) Provide the customer a claim ticket and refer them to Super-Mega Mart for return/replacement procedures?
3) Offer a discount on the purchase of a future Lego® product?
4) Offer a replacement package at cost, including shipping and handling?
5) Overnight the replacement box with additional Lego® swag and an apology letter addressed to the boy?

This is one situation where TRUE Branding (Truthful, Relevant, Unique, Engaging) is tested. Lego® has a simple choice to make. And that choice will be based on their policies, procedures, culture, mission and commitment to their customers… Their Brand.

What do you think happened? I can’t say, but trust me when I say that the story ends with everyone happy.

How does your brand react in a situation like this? Does the customer walk away satisfied? Or do they simply walk away?

Food for thought.

Thank you Steve (Follow him on Twitter @swoodruff) for letting me use this experience to make my point.

Until next time…
Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
— The Brand Chef