In 1923 twin brothers Walt and Roy started as a small-time cartoon studio, little did they know that it would become a world-leading marketing giant specialising in theme parks, movies, and cartoons. Loved my millions across the world and raking in billions in revenue each year.
Everyone says that magic is created in Disney’s parks, throughout their stores, and in their movies. But how do they create it and keep the magic alive?
Disney’s key to success isn’t about what products they offer, what matters to them is how they offer their products. The branding of Disney runs through everything they do from theme parks to movies and their brick and mortar presence.
The moment you walk into anything related to Disney, you are not a customer of them. You become a guest. The staff are not employees, they are cast members, these terms are key to the brand and experience. But the branding and marketing standards go further than that and at no point does Disney allow them to drop.
Have you ever been to a Disney park? The attention to detail is unbelievable. Depending on what park you are in, depends on what the “cast members” wear whether they are working on the rides, picking up the rubbish, or just making sure the park is safe.
It isn’t by accident though, it’s designed to be that way. Because the moment the mask slips, the magic disappears. This is exactly why you never see characters out and about and the park is literally full of tunnels so people can get around the park unseen when not in character.
Disney’s Imagineers do a great job behind the scenes to ensure that everything to do with the rides keeps you inside the magic kingdom at all times too. After recently watching the Disney+ documentary on this whole department you can really see how they pull it all together. Take this shop sign as an example, they’ve gone to great lengths to make sure it and everything around it fits the era.
This targeted and perfected execution of brand marketing is serious business and is likely drilled into every single cast member.
It becomes much harder to extend this into the stores because you have less to work with. The parks are easy because you have a controlled environment, but in the stores you are in someone else’s environment. But Disney still pull this off well.
The next time you go into a store, you’ll find it hard to see something non-Disney. The staff entrances are all well hidden and the stores are packed to the brim with music and films playing. This is to distract you from the outside world and bring you into the immersive world of Disney.
Walt was adamant from the beginning of the creation of Disney that it would have the feel of magic. It would be a place to forget and become immersed in the brand and whenever they’ve strayed away from that things have gone downhill.
Yes this approach has been has cost Disney a lot more but has paid dividends in brand loyalty. Which is where they make their money back.
The Disney experience really works because it was the founders vision to have this whole feel to the brand. This wouldn’t work for someone else who wanted to copy it, which happened in Tokyo before the real Disney came to town.
In all honesty, stories like Disney are rare. Unicorns. They only work for a handful of brands, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t work for many other brands. It’s prominent in the film industry with the Universal parks succeeding because of their immersive brands, there is an oddball in Google. They’ve managed to create magic around their events and head offices in a smaller way that a lot of companies are now copying their style.