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    Creating Your Organization’s Total Brand Experience: Lessons from 25 Years of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

    May 01, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

    The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be. —Michael Eisner, May 1, 1989

    When our Guests enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, they are transported back to the Hollywood of yesterday. With intricate theming, a nod to the golden age of film and modern elements from the newest entertainment offerings, Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ 25th Anniversary provides a business lesson on creating a total brand experience for your organization.

    1. Align Leadership: An organization’s brand experience must be created and implemented through intentional leadership. For Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the brand experience was well established in both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot prior to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, known then as Disney-MGM Studios. While plans for The Great Movie Ride attraction were first developed for Epcot, Michael Eisner, then CEO of The Walt Disney Company, decided there was more potential in creating an entirely new theme park to represent the golden age of film. While building a new theme park is always a measured risk, this extension of the brand experience aligned with other Disney products and the overarching brand promise. When key leaders throughout the organization have a deep understanding and support for the brand promise, new product offerings have a much greater likelihood of sustained success.
    1. Overmanage the Brand Experience: A concept we teach at Disney Institute is “overmanage.”Overmanaging refers to Disney’s attention to detail and intentionality around key business processes that create a unique brand experience. For example, from the moment Guests enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they are no longer in Florida. Instead, they are transported to a new place and a different time period. From the details of the vintage car models and the themed restaurants, to the Cast Members who bring these stories to life, Disney has overmanaged every element of the experience.

    The Great Movie Ride, an iconic attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, creates an immersive brand experience where Guests journey through the movies and become part of their favorite scenes. From the queue area, which includes authentic costumes and props for the greatest Hollywood blockbusters, to the final scene of the attraction which features a montage of a diversity of movies, The Great Movie Ride incorporates elements of Hollywood in a uniquely Disney way. When your organization is designing the brand experience, look to overmanage those seemingly insignificant details that are too often ignored. Think about the messages you are sending from the obvious touch points to the not-so-obvious details.

    1. Innovate the Brand Experience: A key business lesson from the past 25 years of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the need to innovate and refresh the brand experience. While this theme park revolves around old time Hollywood, Disney continuously modernizes it to reflect the best in today’s entertainment offerings. New attractions and experiences cater to constantly evolving audiences.

    “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” is an updated attraction that caters to a new audience while remaining loyal to lifelong Star Wars fans. This 3-D attraction was opened in May 2011, updating the existing Star Tours to feature new 3-D and in-cabin effects, an updated themed queue and randomly generated ride sequences. Guests can now enjoy the attraction multiple times without repeating their journey. Differentiate your organization by embracing opportunities to update offerings to match your customer’s evolving landscape, while remaining true to the promise that brought them to you in the first place.

    How does your organization create and overmanage the total brand experience?


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