Disney’s Brand Value Increases 14% to $39.5 Billion: 5 Lessons for Your Brand

Categories Brands & Ads, EntrepreneurshipPosted on

Odds are you know something about Disney brand. Perhaps you’ve:

  • Watched Disney movies
  • Picked a favorite character
  • Made the trek to one of their theme parks
  • Bought a Disney toy
  • Or, interacted in one of a countless number of ways with Walt’s company.

Heck, you may even be a true Disneyphile (yes, that’s a term) defined as:

A Disneyphile is a word for someone who truly loves Disney. It’s usually associated with those who are hardcore into Disney; not your average Disney fan.  – Urban Dictionary

Disney has an extremely strong brand. That’s not just me speaking. Forbes ranks Disney #8 on its 2016 list of World’s Most Valuable Brands at $39.5 billion. That’s up three spots and nearly $5 billion in value over the past year.

Whether you are looking to build your personal or corporate brand, allow me to offer you 5 lessons from Disney’s success:

1. Lead; Don’t Just Differentiate

Disney doesn’t claim that 9 out of 10 kids prefer Mickey Mouse. They don’t advertise that Goofy is 13% funnier than others in his line of work.

Disney opted to be a leader from inception. They chose to be different in kind. The company received acclaim in the 1930s for the first ever full-length animated film. When land was tight in California, they transformed a Florida swamp into a world like no other.

What’s the point?

Differentiation is often a zero sum game.

Painful as it is to admit, your customers don’t live and breathe your company – you do. So, little differences in your products or services often go unnoticed. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How are you positioned against your competitors? Can customers even tell a difference?
  • How could you truly innovate your products or services? Your organization? Your industry?
  • What gap exists in your market that is calling out for a leader?

2. Create a Seamless Experience; Don’t Cause Customers to Pause

Step into a Disney theme park and you are immediately transported to another world. The sights, sounds, and aromas seamlessly work together to create and sustain the fantasy. If a park ‘guest’ sees something out of place, she might pause, and the moment will be ruined. This is key to Disney’s brand and the underlying principle is true for yours as well.

Whether you run a restaurant, manage an accounting firm, package consumer products, or accomplish a myriad of other worthwhile endeavors, you must create a seamless experience. If your customers pause because something feels out of place, the magic of your brand is lost. Consider these questions:

  • What type of experience are you creating for your customers?
  • Is the experience intentional and holistic or is it inconsistent and fragmented?
  • Do you stay true to your brand or do you create gaps that cause your customers to pause because something doesn’t feel right?

3. Drive Interaction; Don’t Settle for Passivity

One of Disney’s more recent animated films, Frozen, was an instant classic. In fact, Disney recently completed a Frozen attraction at Walt Disney World. It allows guests to ‘interact’ with the film, not simply sit in a theater. Guests will wait in line for hours for a chance to ride into the magical world of Frozen.

Fortunately, fans of the film didn’t have to wait for the Frozen ride’s construction to go beyond simply watching the movie. A sing-a-long version ran in theaters and patrons were encouraged to join in the show. Google ‘Frozen videos’ and you will see that fans have invested their personal time to produce Frozen-esque videos. Disney has tapped into the concept that customer participation breeds commitment. Consider these questions:

  • Are your customers investing their time to interact with your products/services?
  • When was the last time you provided your customers opportunities to interact?
  • Can they go to your website, office, or storefront and participate in some way?

4. Produce Memories; Don’t Be Forgettable

If you travel to Disney’s private island, you will likely put out a photo of the trip in your home. It makes sense; that’s a memorable vacation. What is surprising is that when customers visit a Disney store at the local mall, they smile for photos. Now, that’s uncommon. You don’t see people posing for pictures at Wal-Mart.

If you are thinking, “Sure, that works for Disney, but we don’t have loveable characters.” You’re missing the point. You don’t have to be memorable like Disney, you have to be memorable compared to your competitors. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you leave your customers with positive experiences that they are likely to remember?
  • Is your brand lost in a sea of ‘others’ or does it stand out?
  • When a customer looks to use a similar product or service in the future, will they recommend your organization? Or will they have forgotten all about you?

5. Build on Success; Don’t Settle

Walt Disney didn’t settle for Disneyland in California. He built on its success to create Disney World in Florida – many times larger and grander. That innovative spirit continues today. There are theme parks around the world, multiple ESPN channels, second and third versions of movies, Broadway shows, a fleet of cruise ships, and the list goes on and on…

Sure, other businesses grow and develop new offerings or locations. But Disney didn’t do that – nothing feels cookie cutter. Each new offering is unique and arguably better. Consider your brand:

  • Have you grown content with your brand and complacent with your efforts?
  • If you don’t strive for something better, where will you be a few short years from now?
  • What can you do today to capitalize on past success?


4 Keys to Winning When You’re an Underdog

Categories Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Your CareerPosted on

We have all had underdog moments. These are times when we feel lesser than, find ourselves ill prepared, or simply see a long uphill battle in front of us.

Perhaps you are experiencing an underdog moment right now.

Maybe you are:

  • trying to land a job against very tough odds
  • opening a business in the face of a strong headwind
  • looking to turnaround your performance when everything seems insurmountable
  • and the list goes on and on…

Whatever your situation, I invite you to watch this video to learn 4 keys to winning when you are an underdog.

Applying the underdog lessons

I invite you to take a few minutes to consider if the four keys outlined in the video are present in your life.

To help you assess your situation, think about a time when you found yourself as the underdog.

(Seriously, take a moment to do it.)

Now, consider these questions about how you approached being the underdog.

Key #1: Taking on the right mindset

  • What was your mindset?
  • How did you see yourself in the situation? Victim? Feisty upstart? Etc.?
  • Did you sport a large chip on your shoulder?
  • Did you quit in your mind before you even got started?

Key #2: Setting a clear goal

  • Did you take the time to set a clear goal, even in the face of serious adversity?
  • Was your goal specific or vague?
  • Did you share the goal with others to gain feedback on it? If so, what did you do with their comments?

Key #3: Doing the the hard work

  • Were you willing to do the hard work needed to persevere through the tough times?
  • Did you work in smart ways, asking for help as needed? Or, did you take everything on your shoulders and make things harder than needed?
  • Were you constantly working to acquire new skills to accelerate performance?
  • Did you work, while others rest?

Key #4: Having someone in your corner

  • When times are tough, you need someone in your corner. Who was rooting for you to win?
  • Were you willing to share your goals and progress with your cheerleaders so they know what to root for? Or, was your ego not allowing you to bring them into the discussion?
  • Did you take time to celebrate small victories with someone who was your advocate?

Being an underdog can be a tough and exhausting situation, but doing it well, can be the source of your greatest successes.

I wish you all the best as you strive to win in the face of adversity.


(In case you are curious, the dog in the picture is my daughter’s maltese, Oliver. He is the littlest of the bunch, but sees himself as the feistiest of all.)

8 Behaviors of Highly Successful Creatives

Categories Brands & Ads, Entrepreneurship, Your CareerPosted on

What might Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and a wide-range of other creative people have in common? Arguably, they practiced (whether simply part of their DNA or the result of honed discipline) 8 key behaviors.


disney and apple

I call these key behaviors, the 8Cs of Creativity. The first 4 behaviors are individual practices and the second 4 represent how teams work together to generate creative results. If you apply these steps, you will no doubt improve your own creative skills.

Take a moment to score yourself from 1 (low) to 10 (high) for each C. Use your scores to assess what you do well and where there may be room for improvement.

Individual Level

1. Conscious Observation: Purposely take in the world around you in a quest to find new ideas, concepts, or ways of doing things.

  • When a new style of car drives by, do you notice it? (Heck, was the last street light you drove through green or red?)
  • What was the wall color at the last restaurant you visited?
  • What type of shoes is the closest person next to you wearing?

2. Capturize: It is not enough to consciously observe the world around you. You must also organize the information in a way that you can later access.

  • Do you take photos of things that inspire or intrigue you so you can refer to them later?
  • Do you keep a journal to capture ideas? Pinterest? Blog?

3. Contemplate: You must invest time in quiet reflection. Turn off the television, shut down the computer, silence the radio, and set time away from others to think.

  • When was the last time you sat silently and thought about something – thinking is a business skill after all?
  • Are you always surrounding yourself with noise? When you walk into a quiet room do you immediately turn on the television?

4. Contextualize: As you think about what you have observed and captured, uncover the meaning of what you see and how it relates to the roles you play.

  • The next time your favorite store changes its displays, ask yourself why? Who are they trying to attract? What message are they trying to convey?
  • Consider the names of new products that you see in the store – is there a theme out there that you should pay attention to?

Team Level

5. Cross-Pollinate: Similar to moving pollen from one flower to another, people who effectively use the creative process take an idea and move it to another environment.

  • What ideas have you exposed yourself to in one place that you could apply to your current situation?
  • Are you facing a challenge that you can’t seem to solve using your old methods? Perhaps another industry can give you some insights.

6. Clamorize: The root word of clamorize is clamor. Clamor means commotion, uproar, and conflict. Individuals and teams should embrace conflict as they tackle problems, create new products, improve existing services, etc. Coming up with an idea, tearing it apart, and building something new from it is the essence of creativity.

  • Does your team actively engage in discussions or do they look for the leader to provide the answer?
  • Are people as passionate about brainstorming answers to a work challenge as they are to thinking about what they want to do over the weekend?

7. Crystallize: Crystallizing is the process a team follows to ultimately select the approach they will employ to address the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities they face.

  • How does your team decide which idea wins? Consensus? Leader’s choice? Etc.?
  • Is the decision-making process you use now working?

8. Critique: Creativity must include taking time to step back and assess what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be done better in the future. When put into practice, critiquing focuses on what we can learn from the experience.

  • Are you so busy slaying the next dragon that the team fails to reflect on how the last effort went?
  • Do you document what you learn so you don’t have to revisit the same issues again and again and again?

So, how did you do? What steps can you take today to move your scores in the right direction? Can you think of any Cs we left off the list?

(Note: The list came from an effort that I and my colleague, Scott Miller, undertook a few years ago on a project at FranklinCovey. If you don’t know FranklinCovey, I encourage you to check them out. Scott and I were working to capture the process we used to create marketing programs, identify strategic initiatives, and simply get things done in creative ways.)

How to Be Heard in a Noisy World, Compliments of a Music City ‘Landmark’

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Many years ago (far more than I care to admit), I was sitting in a marketing class in college. The professor was discussing the challenge companies face when they try to get consumers to buy their products.

I recall him saying, “Customers need to hear about a product 7 times before they make a purchasing decision.”

I don’t remember the source of his statement, but the implication stuck with me. The claim meant that people needed to see an advertisement on television, read a story in a newspaper, have a friend recommend it, etc. on average 7 times before they would open their wallets and buy something.

20+ years later, I’m the professor in the front of the marketing classroom.

A few things have transpired since my time as an undergraduate student. Technology has fueled the creation of email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and an ever growing world of devices, programs, and apps.

Technology makes it easier and harder to truly communicate. You can literally send a message around the world in a fraction of second. So can everyone else. Thus, there is a lot of noise in the system.

I recently took a stroll in Music City’s 12 South neighborhood to see what we could learn from one message that seems to cut through the noise. Take a look at this video to learn about the power of creating clear, bold, and engaging messages the Nashville way.


Here’s a shot of Authentically Alex enjoying the mural with her cute dog, Oliver. The mural is helping her to cut through the noise of the blogosphere.

What about you and your messages?

Take a few minutes to consider the emails you write, advertising campaigns you implement, and presentations you deliver.

  • Are people listening to you or is your message not making it to your audience?
  • If your messages are getting lost along the way, is your problem simplicity, boldness, engagement, or something else?
  • What could you do today to more effectively cut through the noise?

I wish you the best as you try to effectively cut through the noise.

What the Bourbon Boom Can Teach You & Your Brand

Categories Brands & Ads, Entrepreneurship, StrategiesPosted on

Whether you partake in the beverage or not, any business person has to admire bourbon’s recent track record. Fortune magazine referred to the phenomena as the “Billion Dollar Bourbon Boom” explaining that 2013 sales reached $8 billion. In 2014, sales grew more than 7 percent, capping off a wave of nearly 50% growth over the past six years. Experts are even wondering if the industry is going to run out of bourbon. 2015 reports indicated that, “Kentucky Bourbon production hit a 48-year peak of 1.9 million barrels in 2015, up 315 percent since 1999.”

Bourbon’s recent renaissance has been fueled by everything from television shows like Mad Men (Joan Harris pictured below) to politics.

Just after the November 2014 United States Senatorial Election, this quote about President Obama and Senator McConnell appeared…

One day after his party lost control of the U.S. Senate, Obama told reporters he would like to share some Kentucky bourbon with McConnell. The invitation was quickly dubbed the bourbon summit and has received lots of attention as the two leaders prepare to either work with or against each other for the final two years of Obama’s presidency. – ABC News

Mila Kunis became the face of Jim Beam in ads (above and below).

There are many things we can learn from the power of the bourbon brand. Here are 4 essentials or observations that I think you might find useful as you work to unleash the power of your personal or organizational brand.

1. Simplicity

Bourbon is a fairly simple product. I’m not saying it’s simplistic – just that it has few ingredients – corn, wheat, water, rye and/or malted barley pretty much round out the list. There’s a lot of value in keeping things simple. Of course there are plenty of bourbon producers all with variations on the standard process. However, at it’s essence, the base product is arguably fairly straight-forward.

Compare that to your company’s offerings…

  • Do you create a straight forward product that people can understand?
  • Are your customers confused with what they are actually buying?
  • Do you make it easy for customers to do business with you?
  • Are your services clear?
  • Do you have too many SKUs, confusing names, or conflicting messages?

2. Mystery

There is something special that happens in that barrel. It’s a bit of a mystery. You can walk through a bourbon distillery and watch the bulk of the process, but you never see what really happens in the barrel. It takes time and happens behind the scenes. The same should be true for your company and your products/services. Great brands have a bit of mystery – “What is Apple going to produce next?” “What happens behind the scenes at Disney?”

  • Is there a bit of mystery around the magic your company performs?
  • Do customers look at what you do and say, “heck, we could do that”?
  • Is there something special you bring to the table that makes your expertise, process, capability something special?

3. Visibilty

One thing that bourbon is benefiting from is terrific visibility in the market. Right now, bourbon is everywhere. Have you ever watched an episode of Mad Men? Don Draper’s favorite concoction is an Old Fashioned – main ingredient: bourbon. As previously mentioned, President Obama is considering a Bourbon Summit. It was recently lampooned on Saturday Night Live. Even Johnny Depp and Jennifer Lawerence, both native Kentuckians, are know to enjoy an occasional bourbon.

  • What about your products – have they found their way into the right hands?
  • Are notable people using your service; not just because you are paying them to do it? They don’t have to be celebrities – just influencers who can help you get visibility.

4. Irreplaceability

Bourbon is not easily replaced or replicated. It can only be produced in the United States – that takes the vast majority of the world out of the mix. Many contend that the best is produced in Kentucky. Plus, the process doesn’t allow for people to quickly play catch-up. If something new hits the market, you can’t replicate it overnight. Bourbon ages in a barrel for years and does best in climates with hot summers and cool winters. True, there are many producers of bourbon, but entering the market is no easy task.

  • What about your team or organization?
  • Are you easily replaced?
  • Can someone enter the market, undercut your pricing, and start gobbling up your business?

These are just a few quick thoughts on bourbon. Again, you don’t have to partake in the beverage to benefit from its wisdom. If you do enjoy bourbon, here are a few items you might find of interest that are springing up as part of the bourbon cottage industry:

But as always, Think Responsibly!

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Best- Patrick