The world, whether it's Marvel Comic Universe or our own, has infinite characters with storylines that overlap, contradict, and evolve.
After years of success, companies have a habit of becoming complacent.
They keep pushing out the same formula, not realizing their audience has shifted, needs have changed, and people are looking for something fresh. The love for the brand dies down and the company reminisces on the glory days and what it was.
Not Disney – they’ve got the formula for success nailed down.
The Disney formula for success
Where other companies have come, gone, and faded away, as a brand The Walt Disney Company is a phenom.
Time has only strengthened the Disney brand, and it is continually ranked amongst the best, most powerful, and most recognizable brands in the world.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 1958, Walt Disney shared his formula for success: Dream, diversify, and never miss an angle.
Over sixty years later, that has proven to still be a winning formula.
Keep on dreaming
Ten years ago there was no Queen Elsa and, “Let it go” was just a common phrase used to diffuse arguments. Yet the characters and stories of Frozen have become so intertwined with the world of Disney that it feels like these characters have always been a part of our lives.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando started with just one park, the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Now it has expanded to four main parks, two water parks, over 20 hotels, a campground, and a shopping center, each with its own theme and unique experiences.
Disney continues to build off past successes with new dreams and innovations.
Brands cannot just live in past glory. Companies must find a balance of preserving what made their company extraordinary while proving what continues to make the company outstanding by innovating, investing in the future, and understanding the growing desires of their audience.
The key, as Disney knows, isn’t to wait for the brand to become stale before thinking of new ideas. Keep dreaming, keep inventing, and keep pushing out new products and content to draw your audience to you.
Once upon a time, it was enough for Disney to offer their unique experiences only in-person, but not anymore. The simple truth is that no amount of magic can transform a bottom line that doesn’t recognize the power of digital.
Diversify to master the Disney formula for success
Disney has always been known for mergers and acquisitions, but after the turn of the century they made some especially noteworthy ones.
In 2006, Disney acquired the animated film company they frequently partnered with, Pixar, officially making the Toy Story franchise a Disney property. Three years later, Disney acquired the juggernaut Marvel Entertainment, adding Tony Stark and Captain America to the list of Disney princes. Three years after that, in 2012, to further their reach, Disney bought LucasFilm, acquiring ownership of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Disney has already recouped their investments in these areas, and has entered into its latest acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
Disney knows how to make the right acquisitions to make their brand bigger, bolder, and broader. When the term “Disney” comes to mind, it’s not just about princesses, amusement parks, and castles anymore. Jedis and Avengers also have their fair shot at the Disney Fairytale.
Where appropriate, brands should strategize ways to diversify their portfolio. Companies need to identify the opportunities they’re missing out on that could strengthen their brand. If they can’t get there alone, it might be time to consider what other companies can do to help them achieve their goals.
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Never miss an angle
While dreaming up new stories with new characters and adventures, Disney knows it can’t forget the classic tales that made young children who are now grown adults with disposable incomes fall in love with the brand in the first place.
Many of the treasured Disney stories of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and my personal favorite about a street rat in Agrabah, Aladdin, came out in the early 90s. Yet in 30 years, the fanfare hasn’t faded as Disney finds ways to reinvent these stories.
One of the latest Disney tactics is turning these classic stories into live action adventures. This year Aladdin and The Lion King premier with high anticipation to old and new audiences. This follows past releases of live action films such as Cinderella, the Jungle Book and the blockbuster Beauty and the Beast remake from 2017, which racked in 1.264 billion USD worldwide.
Companies shouldn’t forget what customers originally liked about their brand, but they need to continue to reinvent the messaging by position differently and adapting products from every angle. In the past, Disney has returned these classic stories to theaters, but now they are returning them to theaters with different actors, slight adaptions, and a brand new on-screen experience.
Dream, diversify, and never miss an angle. Companies can follow the Disney formula for success to keep the magic with their brands.