Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is celebrating its 50th anniversary over the next 18 months! You may be surprised to find out… that’s just the age of the Florida theme park, Disney Land opened in 1955. Founder Walt Disney actually sold his first cartoon almost 100 years ago. As a brand that shares magic, storytelling, and experiences, Disney is recognized worldwide. We, as entrepreneurs, can take lessons from this legacy company to use in our businesses.
Take a look at this Walt Disney quote: “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again and again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
We’re always auditioning for that next event or opportunity. Every experience is a brand promise that you deliver to people. Disney is famous for being all about the experience, from its theme parks, to its movies, to its stores.
The fact of the matter is, they didn’t become a leading company “magically” overnight. The secret of Disney’s brand is: strategy.
I’ve been in the business world for over 30 years building and branding my own story of success. Looking at the success of Disney and his companies there are three recurring elements. These have helped me greatly in my experiences and can help any entrepreneur.
Create the Brand Story
No one wants to only hear about a list of chemicals in a product or the endless benefits of “this” and “that.” People crave a connection and a story associated with a brand. Disney has created their brand story through the use of their iconic logo. The Mickey Mouse logo was first paired with the famous cartoon but now, it represents creativity, enthusiasm, and imagination. They have reused this image for years and still continue to make billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Instead of changing their logo as new trends come and go, they stuck with Mickey ears and a castle because that’s what people have been comforted by for so long. This logo builds on the brand story that anything is possible whether a princess is trying to escape from a dragon or a lion fights for his rightful place on the throne. In the end, people obsess over Disney and their famous logo because they want to believe they can find optimism and “magic” in their own lives.
How has your brand changed lives? Why does your product mean so much to you? Every brand needs a story. Once you decide how you’re going to tell yours, you’re golden.
Understand Your Audience
Arguably, this is the most important thing a brand needs to understand in order to succeed. Let’s go back to the Disney example. They market themselves as a brand for the “entire family to enjoy.” When parents started to stress concern about their daughters’ watching movies where princesses needed men to save them, Disney listened, pivoted their brand, and came out with Frozen… a movie that flooded the markets, Halloween costumes, and even Broadway.
As a brand, Disney took the time to assess the needs of their audience and altered their entire company. I know from personal experience that it’s easy to be critical of people who don’t support your brand or talk negatively about your company. I’ve found that instead of being critical, I need to listen to some of my critics to see if my company can somehow address their needs. In the end, it’s up to your brand to bridge the gap between the customer and product.
How do you want your brand to make other people feel? Disney does not sell to people and forget them. Instead, they check in on their customers time and time again developing a strong relationship. It’s these specific experiences your brand builds that keep customers coming back for more. Your brand has the power to make people feel and think a certain way. How you design your brand and make an impact is completely up to you.
If the happiest place on earth can cater to both adults and children, stay flexible to changing environments, and design life-long memories, the possibilities for your brand potential are endless! My advice, don’t get overwhelmed by all of this information at once. Take a small bite, digest, and determine how you can put your plan into action.