With young children in the house, I’m constantly inundated with Disney products. They take on various forms, from movies, figures, puzzles, games, toys of various types, books, clothing, accessories, and much more. Disney’s tactics and areas of approach may have changed over the years, but the basic strategy of engaging children with a good, wholesome story with a subtle lesson incorporated hasn’t changed since the 40’s, when the original Mickey Mouse cartoon launched. The amazing thing I’ve observed, and something to be emulated, is the ability they demonstrate to stay within the brand across all products, services and efforts. From the movies, to the theme parks, to the lids on the cups and the towels folded in fun shapes in the hotels on the property, the Disney brand is present, noticeable, and consistent. That’s where a large portion of its power comes from, and as business owners we can all take a lesson from Walt’s vision and discipline.
From humble origins in a single sketch of a rough-looking rat, through full blown animated movies, to theme parks and attractions the rival the world’s fair, the brand has always held to a set of recognizable characteristics. From the cups in the concession, to the castings of Toy Story movie figures, the level of quality and value is consistently high, the materials top notch, the safety and functionality of the highest levels possible. Colors are vivid, paints are bold, facial features are easily recognizable and well molded. The imagery in the animated films is beyond sharp, the movements incredibly smooth and lifelike, the surfaces artfully captured and rendered. But it’s the story and the characters that really show the brand’s core.
Disney’s vision has always revolved around a story. From Snow White, to Cars 2, there is an innocent, wondrous quality to the characters, untainted by current events and the world around them, but somehow reflecting the cultural touchstones that poke out of the firmament around each film. The plot has a point, and usually teaches several lessons in courteous generous, or well-mannered behavior. The way characters treat each other is a tremendous model for kids to pattern after, and the story’s outcome reinforces the importance of treating others well leading to a good outcome.
Business marketers could take a page or two from Disney’s book, in terms of brand continuity, consistency of voice, and maintenance of high standards of quality and service. Everything they touch carries the brand proudly, including the employees. From the tram driver at the park in Anaheim to property manager at the prime hotel in Orlando, each strives to go beyond the call of duty and actually SERVE customers, to rise above expectation to make them happy.
Do your employees do this each and every day, with each and every customer of yours? Are your products the highest quality they can be, every time, and recognizably so? Are your marketing efforts telling the right story, one that engages potential customers, charms and enchants them into understanding your value and acting in a loyal and generous way as a result? If not, you’re not really working for a Mickey-Mouse outfit, like you thought . . .