Success and maintaining a powerful presence within a market doesn’t happen over night; a lot of current big name corporations could attest to this struggle. Yet there is one small company that continues to dominate the studio entertainment, theme parks, sports, media and merchandise industries.
They are the Walt Disney Company.
So I lied, they’re not small but they were once a struggling brand trying to make a name for themselves.
An incredibly brief background of the Walt Disney Company‘s big break.
In 1923, Walt and his brother Roy were able to finally break into the industry with the use of innovative film techniques implemented within the Alice Comedies. After this small success, they overcame the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit by showcasing to the world Steamboat Willie in 1928. This little animated mouse was the beginning of what the company is today.
Where are they now?
Part of their success can be associated with how they have upheld their brand’s image for over 90 years. The term ‘brand‘ is much more than simply the logo and name of the company. It signifies the unique benefits, meaning and promises the brand successfully maintains in order to stay relevant to their audience. So, it really connects with the perception and expectations a customer has with the brand in a factual and emotional sense.
Walt Disney did not aim for his company’s brand to be simply about theme parks, entertainment and products. Instead, his core promise was to give the audience an enjoyable experience that they could remember. He reiterates this in his opening speech for Disneyland as being dedicated to bring happiness to all the people who visit.
By maintaining their original ideas, they have benefited in a number of ways.
A promise to their fans
To some extent the Walt Disney Company is a cult due to the loyalty of their fans. Admittedly, I am a part of this group. But the way they attain this equity and customer response is through the associations developed over the years. It has been shown that customers who are familiar with a brand’s beliefs can then connect positive knowledge and experiences within their memory. This results in a high level of brand equity. So these genuine brand associations are developed and are represented via the audience’s actions.
The Walt Disney Company has highlighted that they want to maintain the legacy of “creating world-class stories and experiences for every member of the family.” By preserving these core traditions, individuals continue to have a strong emotional and physical involvement with Disney by seeing the films, enjoying the theme parks and purchase their products as it is universally accepted that they are of a high standard. This can be extended through my own perception of Disney as being involved with their products means to escape from reality and feel happy. How I feel towards the company highlights the beliefs of Disney Parks, which holds is an extension of their original ideas. Thus, their intentional branding has been successfully associated by the customers understanding of the company.
Now that the brand perception is set, it is time to expand.
Companies who are successful often expand out into new or similar markets. There are two ways a company can adopt this tactic. The first is referred to as umbrella branding, which is essentially selling products under the same company name. The benefit is leveraging off the company’s current status to associate the same high quality with something new. The other method is known as house of brands, which relates to having multiple sub-brands within a central company. Therefore, each product or service is identified via another name. One simple benefit is having the freedom of flexibility of possible actions not associated with the house brand.
Disney implements both strategies.
Most of the brands we know associated with the Walt Disney Company also have Disney located within their title; such as Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Channel and Disney Stores. However, a number of affiliates they have acquired present themselves under a different name. For example, ABC, ESPN, Marvel and Touchstone. Disney may have incorporate their logo within these companies but they are perceived to be separate. By utilising these strategies, they have immersed their brand successfully in a variety of entertainment domains.
Maintaining a brand’s image is a hard task but could potentially be the difference amongst competitors. And as Walt Disney once said, “when you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”
Nichola Stamatakos | 215234781