Monday, May 19, 2008

Do You Have A Magical Brand?

I just spent the last week with my wife walking the theme parks of Disney World. We haven't been there in many years and a lot has changed. I have to admit that the Disney brand is alive and kicking in Florida. Where else do you see grown men and woman walking in public wearing various themed mouse ears and Goofy hats? At Disney World it seems perfectly suited to the atmosphere created there.

The Disney experience is essentially the audience immersed in theatre. The resort we stayed at welcomed you "home" upon entering the grounds and the entire cast consistently wished you to "have a magical day". I was very impressed by this brand experience. One morning my wife and I went for a walk around the grounds and came upon the main gate from the outside. The guard came out, asking to see ID and once we were identified promptly "welcomed us home". Are your staff as fine tuned to a consistent brand message?

In all of the attraction areas, is music playing the "soundtrack" of the park. You quickly recognize that everything you see and experience has been "created" to best position the Disney effect. It got to the point where my wife Rose, asked me if the birds in the trees singing were the real thing or a recording? All of this control over experience really does make you forget the real world outside. The effect is absolutely convincing. You forget you are walking around an enormous set. You really want to believe. My wife was actually excited to get her picture taken with Mickey and friends. (I thought it was pretty cool too)

I took away a lesson in how to make customers love you. Give them a consistent message and over deliver on everything you do for them. I loved the experience so much, I was willing to pay $8 to $10 for a Manhattan (my favorite drink). Back home in a restaurant I would shell out half that amount. Everything cost more, but the brand delivers and so I was smitten. When you love something you are willing to pay more to prolong the experience. Are your customers willing to pay more for your experience? Maybe it's time you have a hard look at how you deliver to your audience.

Many people might say that they resent the manicured experience at Disney World, but I would challenge them to show me any successful brand that doesn't succeed by delivering their product on an emotional level. The Disney Brand conjures up a deep heart felt desire to believe that the world is a good place where everyone wishes you a magical day even if for a moment. Even if that belief lasts only a week, it is good for the soul. But what is important to note from a business perspective is, every time I see the Disney name I will be reminded of the great feeling that I felt at Disney World. That brand experience translates into major dollars for the Disney Corporation. It allows them to sell me on many product offerings based on a brand promise that is magical.

We could all use a bit of that magic.

Disney doesn't appear to ever be sitting still. New attractions and resorts keep adding to the magic. Are you continually delivering new services and products to your audience? Don't sit still and let grass grow under your brand's feet. The magic is in your brand - this is your opportunity to control it's delivery.

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