Brand Lessons Learned from Mickey Mouse

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — Six days. Five nights. 84 expected experiences per person. Return rate of more than 70 percent. Customer lifetime value of $62,000.

These averaged metrics help to drive the continuing effort of Disney to deliver quality customer experiences that will bolster the strength of its brand. In a closing keynote address on the final night of RightNow Summit '09, RightNow Technologies' annual user conference, Nicole Lauria, a content specialist and facilitator at Disney Institute stressed the importance of brand loyalty and tips to continue keeping companies' brand promises.

"Think about the Disney brand; everyday many of our consumers have the opportunity to be involved and do not realize it," Lauria said. "That's why we must ensure every experience they have with us makes them want to tell others and come back again and again."

Growing and nurturing brand loyalty is a journey, Lauria said. Each step is a link in a chain, and she said that it must begin with the c-suite. Disney's chain of excellence is (in order):

  • leadership excellence;
  • cast excellence;
  • guest satisfaction; and
  • financial results/repeat business.

Swap out "cast" for "employee", and "guest" for "customer", and this can easily be a blueprint whether a business is for-profit or not-for-profit, Lauria said. While she admitted one could get bogged down in slogans and logo, what is more important is determining whether or not companies are actually following through on the brand promises they share with their customers. "Do we deliver on the truth we identify as our brand promise? That's the key question," she stressed.

Disney seeks to answer this question in three ways:

  • brand integrity;
  • creating positive experiences; and
  • enhancing relationships.

In doing this, Lauria said it is important to physically engage with customers, particularly in an age when technology alone can overpower and take over many business strategies. She admitted Disney does use technology -- she noted that her company would be "crazy" not to -- but it is the small things that can accumulate to provide lasting brand loyalty.

At Disney, these are described as "Magical Moments" that can either be spontaneous or orchestrated. It can be as small as knowing guests by name; being proactive and making calls to help guests when travel plans may sudden change; or just simply treating people with respect. "If we focused on big ‘wow' moments, could we maintain it on a daily basis? Absolutely not," Lauria said. "We must do these little things, too. Never underestimate the power of what seems like small initiatives."

The overarching aim for Disney, Lauria concluded, is to continue delivering on its brand promise. It requires focus, and it requires knowing who you're doing it for in the end. "Our promise is ‘special entertainment with heart,'" she said. "We are Disney -- we are an entertainment company -- and we do this for the people."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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