Not everyone likes Disney—the parks, the movies, the whole “Disney thing.”
Fact is, back in the day, I was among that cohort, pretty much thinking Disney was nonsense and not something a cool, hip, young writer guy would dig, ya know? Then came kids, and I realized I didn’t have as much disdain for Disney as I thought. In fact, my position was as much a pose—my brand, if you will—as was Disney’s.
What I found over the years, especially when it came to the parks or the cruises or the hotels, is that Disney is true to its brand in one way that’s very important to me: You get what you pay for (which can often be quite a lot) and it never sucks. You might not be a particular fan of “Country Bear Jamboree” or “Frozen” or “Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Café,” but if you are honest, you have to admit that whatever it is is done well and with thought and intelligence and brand-awareness.
Such is my interest in Disney that I was excited to read the recent “From the Field” we published—“Disney Legend Shares Walt’s Secrets To Irresistible Brand Stories” by Eddie Newquist, chief creative officer at Global Experience Specialists. For this column, Newquist sat down with Marty Sklar, former Walt Disney Imagineering creative executive, who, during his 53 years with the company “wrote Walt’s messages for publications and presentations, led the development of nine Disney parks around the world, and helped create attractions like ‘It’s a Small World.’” During the conversation, Newquist soon realized that “the tenets of Imagineers aren’t just applicable to marketing; they’re absolutely crucial to long-term brand survival.”
I invite you to read the entire thing for some very sage and valuable insight into marketing and branding, Disney-style. There is one “tenet,” however, that I would like to especially point out, given many companies’ struggles these days with brand and content marketing: Uncover what people love about your brand, and deliver on that promise. In other words, according to Sklar, “A brand is not something you buy. It’s something you buy into.”
Let me paraphrase—the brand is not the product or service you sell; it is the promise you make and the story you tell.
Let that sink in, then think about what kind of content you are creating. Is it about your products? Is it about how wonderful your company is? Is it—and this is a sneaky one—about how some person or company used your products to succeed or shine in some way?
Have you ever heard Disney tell you how great they are and why you should partake of the Disney entertainment experience?
Neither yours truly nor CMO.com as an entity pretend to be marketing or brand experts. But it does seem to me that it is well past time for brands and marketers to give up on the old ways and embrace the notion that marketing works when it is about the customer, and all you do is provide a story and a promise that that customer can buy into, not buy.
And it’s really not such a new idea, in any case. Walt knew it 60 years ago. Disney sits at #13 on Interbrand’s lastest rankings. How many places behind is your brand?