Brand Building: Be The Disney Of Your Industry

  • August 29, 2014
  • Starr Million Baker

The Baker family road tripped it to Disney World this summer for a few nights stay at the home of all things princess. While our girls could not get over how cool it was to meet Ariel, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, I was awed by the brand experience that permeates everything Disney. And I’m not talking about the logo on each and every $20 balloon and $40 light-up wand. The Disney brand transcends the physical and does the best job I’ve ever seen of creating – and maintaining – a true brand experience.  Here are five things companies can learn from Disney (thanks Walt):

Every single employee whom my family engaged with on a Disney property – literally, every single one – treated us the same. They were courteous, enthusiastic, positive people who all wanted to make sure our experience was memorable. After all, Disney is where “dreams come true.” If you want a transcendent brand, every person who represents your company (from the CEO to the intern) must know what your company is about, and live and breath it to everyone they interact with.

The best way to accomplish the above is to define the brand experience for which you want to be known. I see our clients miss this crucial step all the time. While they may have a great product or service, they become fixated on selling vs. building a brand. They have never asked and answered the question: what do we want to be known for (or if they did ask it, they change the answer constantly). If you haven’t defined what you want your brand experience to be, you are building a disposable brand. If you do know what you want your customers to experience every time they engage with your company, then you’ve likely done these three things:

Hire the right people. Disney thrives on happiness. It would be hard for them to maintain their brand experience if they hired people who didn’t have the happy gene. No doubt there are plenty of amazing, smart, hardworking people who just don’t fit the brand Disney has built and strives to maintain. And that’s okay. Companies need to know what their brand is about, and hire people who have it within them to deliver on that, day in and day out.

At INK, our brand experience is about being personal. That means we cherish our clients and work our butts off to understand them, make them feel special, anticipate their needs, and ensure they know we have their backs. It means we never mass email reporters, and we actually read what they write. And it means we give our employees the world, and they give it back in return. We believe this brand experience is what keeps clients and employees on board, and ensures we have media relationships that will last throughout our careers.

One of the big things I realized that HAD to have happened at Disney when the park is closed and the employees gather is that they talk about it (“it” being their brand experience). They say, very explicitly, “This is how we do things at Disney. This is what you have to do to make it here. And we take this very seriously.” And they don’t talk about it just the one time, when employees are first hired. It’s a day-in-day-out discussion, almost as living and breathing as a person in the room. If companies want customers to experience their brand, their employees have to BE the brand and that means talking about it ALL THE TIME.

Lastly, tie it all together. While the people who come in contact directly with customers are on the front lines and extremely important, so is your website. So is your social media presence. So are the email campaigns and billboards, and mobile apps and whitepapers. ALL of these things have to tie together to create a holistic – and thus, memorable – brand experience. Even the janitors at Disney get in on the fun that creating a memorable brand experience can be (check out these surprise watercolor paintings of Mickey staff members around town). If your sales people rock, but your website sucks, the customer is going to notice – and they are going to be confused. Make it all rock, make it all tie together, and you too can be the Disney of your industry.