I am going to start this post with a huge disclaimer. I AM NOT A DISNEY PERSON. My kids are not Disney kids. We are not a Disney family. But we went there. Oh yes, we did. We decided to tack a couple days on at the parks because we were going on a cruise leaving out of Florida, and what kind of monsters take their kids to Florida and don’t take them to Disney? Whelp, not us.
But this post is not about going to Disney. This post is about Disney as a brand, as an institution, and some valuable lessons I took away from spending some time at the “happiest place on Earth”.
This Forbes article might be almost 5 years old, but it’s worth a read. According to its’ author, “You need to establish a differentiated meaning for your brand that the consumers you want to really care about, and you need to be able to deliver on this idea brilliantly and consistently. In other words, you must do what it takes to keep your promise, keep it relevant, and meet consumer expectations wherever they touch your brand.”
The operative words here are MEANING, CARE, PROMISE, and WHEREVER. There are hundreds of amusement parks in this country. Damn near every state has at least one. Only to Disney are people willing to fly, spend $600 a night on a “budget” hotel, spend hundreds of dollars to enter and eat at the park, and get the whole family to wear matching custom-made t-shirts sporting the logo. And they do this not only willingly but maniacally.
Brand is everything. For Disney, and for you. How much time do you spend thinking about the people that encounter your company, what promises you make to them and how you keep them, and how brilliantly and consistently you do this?
According to a big muckety muck at Disney, the missions is “to make magical experiences come alive.” SO SIMPLE. What is your mission? Is it easy to understand? Can you tell it to a stranger in an elevator and have them “get it” crystal clear-like? If not, it might be time for an internal meeting to work it over a bit.
At Disney, employees have an impressive degree of discretion. On more than one occasion I had someone just GIVE me an item rather than force me to stand in a long line. Granted, it was a container of milk, but I was eternally grateful not to have to stand in that line with my kid screaming. Same goes for the coffee I was comped. I think the cashier felt sorry for me, watching me struggle with four small kids who were characteristically unimpressed. They were small things, but I will never forget them.
At Disney, every experience can be packaged, and they make it OH SO EASY to help you part with your money. From the magic bands that are connected to your credit card, so you don’t even have to <gasp> open your wallet to buy stuff, to the meal plans, to the transportation and makeover experiences, it is just so easy. How easy do you make it to interact with your company? How could you improve it? These are great questions to ask your clients, your colleagues, and even a friend or two. Wouldn’t it be fun to have someone “secret shop” your company to find out what general impression your staff is giving? And by fun, I mean kind of terrifying and yet super illuminating at the same time.
I won’t be rushing back to Disney, but I will remain an enthusiastic appreciator of the colossal brand they have built and continue to cultivate. Their business success is an inspiration to even this non-Disney fan.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How?