Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Communicating Isn't Connecting: Disney Knows Christmas

Once and for all, let me clear this up. I am not anti-marketing. A good part of how I make my living has to do with marketing. The distinction I make is marketing is a means of expressing a brand, but not the BRAND itself, or even the core of "branding." Branding is the master, marketing is but one many servants. Sales process, product development, organizational development, distribution channels, and a host of other disciplines are no less significant in defining and advancing a brand.

Marketing is all about communicating. Branding is all about connecting. People sometimes confuse the two. Building a brand is done by defining, clarifying, and refining behaviors, practices and policy that reinforces the experience you want with your target audience.

So why is it that people are so quick to hang the full weight of their brand on the hook called marketing? It has a lot to do with the people in marketing who are quick to promise that a spiffy new logo, name change, or revamped collateral materials will establish a brand. Why? Because those are the things they have to sell. As the old saying goes, "to a carpenter with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." In a sense, marketing people are house painters. They promise you a "like new" home through a splash of paint. Marketing(painting) is a repeatable deliverable that generates revenue for the marketing people. Their income depends on their ability to get cleints to "repaint" frequently.

One of my favorite examples of true branding at work is the way Disney decorates its theme park in Orlando for the Christmas season. If you've ever been there during the Christmas season you know the entire place is transformed into a winter wonderland with garland, Holiday lights, Christmas trees, and poinsettias everywhere. It truly is a spectacular sight.

Twice, I was staying at the park during the change over from "fall" decorations to Christmas displays. Both years, my family and I went to bed late in the evening and woke to find the entire park including every tree, light, plant, fake snowfall, and candy cane was installed while we slept!

Can you image the logistical challenges associated with a task of this magnitude? Why does Disney do it all in one night rather than spread it over a couple of days? The simple answer is Disney's core value is Imagination. To be true to that value, the company insists that every decision be made with the intent of supporting the imagination of the park guests. If a child goes to bed at night and wakes the next morning to step ladders, crates, and workers installing decorations, how would that support imagination? On the other hand, how cool is it that a child can go to sleep after an exciting day in the park and wake the next morning to find that everywhere they look, it's Christmas!

That branding at work, boys and girls.