A Simple Lesson About Brand Taught By Disney

Posted on March 12, 2013

Day One of Our Disney Trip - Miami 165I went on a Disney Cruise with my kids in February. I specifically chose Disney because my husband wasn’t going with us (he’s busy working on his master’s thesis). I felt that if I was going to travel alone with my kids to unfamiliar places, I needed to have some back up. I needed to be completely confident that no matter what happened, we were covered. I wanted the comfort of a solid brand. Disney does that. It gives me comfort. Disney says you can feel safe taking your kids onto that giant ship and your first cruise.

We had a wonderful time – an excellent vacation complete with 200 plus photos. Based on the conversations I’ve had with different people both during and after my cruise, chances are I would have had an equally wonderful time on a number of other cruise lines too, but that’s not the point. I would not have taken another cruise. I took the cruise because of Disney. When you build a powerful brand, amazing things happen. Grown women dress-up like princesses, executives laugh like pirates and people take risks on new ventures based on your reputation.

So how do you get your brand to where you want it to be? Well if you’re a communications professional working in an association or not-for-profit, the most difficult things to accept are that a) good brand building isn’t up to you and b) you can’t help it along with advertising or promotional work. The best thing you can do to improve your brand is to talk internally. Your brand isn’t about what you portray, it’s about what you do and what the public and your clients perceive about you.

Let’s go back to the cruise for a minute. As you can imagine, if you put thousands of people in a confined space and throw hundreds of over-excited children into the mix, things don’t always go as planned. There were melt downs and temper tantrums, not to mention some of the children‘s bad behavior, but those things never got in the way of service.  The staff was always pleasant, funny, innovative and even on occasion suitably sarcastic. They got adults to laugh off situations that can quickly escalate into anger and distracted children who were revving up to whine. At one point, my 15-year-old came back from the breakfast buffet angry because another passenger had been rude to the server at the counter. When I asked him how the server dealt with the rude passenger, he said, “He just kept trying to do what the passenger asked.”

And there it is in a nutshell. You build a good brand by giving customers what they are asking for. My son didn’t want a scene at breakfast; neither did any of the other passengers at the buffet, so the server did his best not to create one. The result was that my son was angry at the passenger on behalf of the crew member. When a four-year-old girl had a fit while the ship was debarking at one of our island stops, the staff immediately distracted her. They got her attention focused on them and not her parents and managed to keep the rest of us moving.

So if you want to build a strong brand, build a strong service orientation into your team – even if that team only serves internal clients.  Make your raison d’être centred completely on helping your clients be successful. In health care we call it client-centred care, but experienced business people and the folks at Disney simply say, the customer knows best.

Lessons learned

  • Good brands come from good client centered experience.