Alright, I’ll admit it: I’m a Millennial, and I love Disney.
In true NSC fashion, I’ve discovered that there are some surprisingly useful hints and tips for creatives nestled beneath those Mickey Mouse ears.
Of course this wasn’t an excuse to re-watch my favourite movies for the umpteenth time...
Without further ado, here are your 17 nuggets of Disney business wisdom:
"Your identity is your most valuable possession." – Elastigirl (The Incredibles)
Your brand is a superhero. It’s capable of so much, and can inspire so many people.
But you need to make sure that your brand identity is solid.
Think about your brand as a person – who are they?
What sort of music do they like?
How do they speak?
What do they do in their spare time?
When you flesh out your brand, you bring it to life.
Your brand is what people really buy into – this is especially true if you’re in a fairly saturated market, with a lot of competition.
When you set yourself apart from the rest, your identity shows its true superpowers.
“Even miracles take a little time” - Fairy Godmother (Cinderella)
We’ve all been there: the frustrating first few months when you’ve got no leads, no customers, no visits to your site, and no followers on social media.
The knee-jerk reaction is just to pack it all in.
But to be successful, you need to push through the hard times, and then your ‘miracle’ will truly start to show itself.
Of course, the miracle is actually seriously hard work from you, but we don’t want to ruin the illusion, do we?
“The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work.” – Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
Of course we want to ruin the illusion!
This is Night Sky Creative – we’re here to peek behind the curtain and see how it’s all done, so you can grow and become more successful.
As Tiana says, hard work is key.
So, at least for the first few years, you need to put in the time (as the Fairy Godmother says) and the effort (like Tiana) into your business before you see the real growth.
It may mean saying no to a few outings with your friends, or postponing that holiday, but it will be worth it in the end.
"The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it." – Rafiki (The Lion King)
It’s inevitable – somewhere along the way, you will make a mistake (or even a few!).
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you shouldn’t ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen.
Instead, learn from it.
Missed a spelling error in an email campaign?
Add proof-reading to your process, and get more pairs of eyes on it.
Told a customer some incorrect information?
Apologise for the error, and take steps so that it doesn’t happen again.
Don’t run away from your mistakes, learn from them.
"Like so many things, it is not what's outside, but what is inside that counts." — Merchant (Aladdin)
Okay, this quote doesn’t quite work, but it draws attention so something that too many businesses overlook: internal marketing.
Your employees can be the first port of call for many customers or potential customers.
So you need to make sure that they're representing your brand properly.
Your employees need to know exactly what your company is doing, what your brand values are, and what they bring to the table.
If you're portraying a certain image to your customers externally, but aren't matching that internally, your customers will notice, and that will damage your brand.
I've explored internal marketing in more depth in the article 'Inside Out: Internal Marketing' - check it out here.
Remember: happy employees = happy customers!
"You control your destiny – you don't need magic to do it. And there are no magical shortcuts to solving your problems." – Merida (Brave)
It's important to remember that you are in control of what happens to your business.
While the market, socio-economic climate and, sometimes, political drivers, can have an impact on your business, ultimately you control the destiny of your business.
You decide which paths to take your business and your brand.
You decide who your audience are.
You decide exactly what you're selling
You decide where and how to sell it.
And while we all love a bit of the Disney magic, that 'magic' won't be the thing that makes or breaks your business.
“If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” – Pocahontas
We've said it a thousand times at NSC: know your audience.
Everything you do as a business should be for your audience.
Consider where your customers are in order to choose your marketing platforms.
Consider how your customers make purchases in order to decide where to sell your product or service.
Consider why your customers would buy your product or service in order to determine your marketing messaging and build your brand.
Consider what your customers would be looking for in order to develop the design of your product or service.
Consider who your customers admire and relate to in order to decide which influencers you should collaborate with.
Consider your customers' stance on sustainability in order to choose how you manufacture your product.
Consider your customers.
And maybe they won’t be strangers for very long.
“You don’t have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring.” — Lumière (Beauty and the Beast)
How does one stand out from the crowd?
Simply put, you have to take risks.
Don’t just copy your competitors – if your brand is the same, your messaging is the same, your offering is the same… why would they customers (or potential customers) come to you?
You have to be different to succeed.
That can mean that you try out a few things before you find what works, but you have to take that gamble.
Timid brands don’t succeed.
Try to name a timid brand.
Nope? Me, neither.
Name a bold brand.
Ones that spring to mind for me are: KFC (particularly for their ‘FCK’ campaign when they ran out of chicken in the UK for a short period of time), Google, Amazon, Apple… I could go on.
To clarify, I’m not necessarily a ‘supporter’ of these brands, I’ve just noticed that they are bold.
They all took risks.
And they happened to pay off for them.
There are countless brands, I’m sure, that took risks that didn’t end up paying off.
But at least they took the risk – they were bold.
Plus, if all else fails, you can usually pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try something else.
"The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up." – Timothy Mouse (Dumbo)
This quote is a little obscure, but stay with me. It’s about finding your USP: unique selling point.
Your USP is what sets you apart from the crowd. It could well be something that you consider a ‘weakness’.
Once upon a time, there was a man called Spencer Silver.
He was creating a super-strong adhesive to be used in airplanes.
Somewhere along the way, he grew frustrated with his inventions - they weren’t sticky enough, and were easily peeled away with minimal force.
One day, his friend, Art Fry, found that he was losing his notes that he had stuck in his hymn book at church.
Art knew that Spencer was working on the adhesives, so he suggested that they use that stickiness on the back of pieces of paper.
And that, dear friends, is the story of the humble Post-It.
So try looking at things a different way, and your weaknesses could become your greatest strengths.
“Remember who you are.” - Mufasa, The Lion King
It’s far too easy to lose your brand in a mess of different marketing campaigns.
You can lose sight of your reason why.
You need to find your Mufasa-cloud.
Your Mufasa-cloud is your reminder of who you are – who your brand is.
This could be done in so many different ways:
A lettered poster with your brand values and mission statement
A reminder on your phone to pop up every now and then
The background of your phone or computer
A tattoo (for those of you who are SUPER-dedicated to your brand
A playlist of music or podcasts
A person you talk to, who gets you revved-up on your brand
Those are just a few suggestions on what you could have as your Mufasa-cloud.
Coming soon: petition to get ‘Mufasa-cloud’ in common business-speak.
“A lie keeps growing and growing until it's as clear as the nose on your face." - The Blue Fairy (Pinocchio)
Sometimes it’s all too easy to fake it when starting a business.
You’ve got no followers on social media, so why not buy fake ones?
You’ve got no reviews for your products, so why not fake them?
Fake followers and fake reviews can seriously damage your brand.
Customers are getting savvier at determining what’s real and what’s ‘fake news’.
Wouldn’t you rather invest that money you’d put into buying fake reviews and fake followers into more personalised, segmented marketing?
Imagine what you could do with that money… You could:
Create a social media advertisement
Invest in PPC (pay-per click)
Outsource amazing content
Design eye-catching infographics
Put together a video to use on social media (after all, video is fantastic at engagement across basically all social media platforms)
Attend a relevant event to get your leads the ‘old fashioned’ way
Invest in your email platform – most email marketing providers, like MailChimp, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor, have more perks with higher tiers of membership. Why not give those a try?
Promote your product or service on a relevant website, where you know your audience will be
Plus, all of those will be far more effective than if you were to buy fake followers or fake reviews.
"I just don't think I can handle that kind of rejection!" – Rex (Toy Story)
While it can sometimes hurt, rejection is part of business, and part of creativity.
Rejection can take many forms – through negative feedback, customers refusing to purchase, clients not taking you up on a pitch…
When you think you can’t handle that kind of rejection, consider this: they’re all actually doing you a favour.
Criticism, in whatever form, is useful.
It helps you determine where your weaknesses and your strengths are, so you can continue to build on them and improve.
Still not convinced?
We’ve written an article on The Power of Criticism, telling you everything you need to know.
"If you can't say somethin’ nice, don't say nothin’ at all." – Thumper (Bambi)
In any business, you always have to keep one eye on the competition.
And it can be tempting to simply straight-out diss them in your marketing messaging, or in any contact with your audience.
It’s very unprofessional, and can end up damaging your brand rather than theirs.
This is just my opinion, and I know that there’s a trend at the moment of brands engaging in ‘banter’ with other brands on social media.
To me, it just looks like they’re trying too hard.
Plus, I, as a customer, wouldn’t switch from one brand to another simply because they’re dissing each other on Twitter.
It’s also important to note that it’s difficult to do well, and banter can be interpreted in so many different ways.
While you might be having a ‘playful jab’ at another brand, they could see it as slander, or defamation, and they could take it further.
I say keep things professional when it comes to the competition – know what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, who their customers are, and engage in pleasantries, if at all.
If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.
"Hoo-hoo! Big summer blowout!" – Oaken (Frozen)
Probably my favourite quote in this list!
Promotions like this are brilliant ways of getting your products sold, generating new leads and brand awareness.
Of course, you don’t have to do a big summer blowout – here are a few other ideas you could use to promote your product or service:
Discount offers (buy one, get one free, money-back guarantee, 50% off, etc.)
Loyalty programmes, such as loyalty cards or customer accounts
There are lots more ways of promoting your brand, products and services, but we’ll have to save those for another article!
"A single grain of rice can tip the scale" – The Emperor of China (Mulan)
There’s only one way of knowing what activities will lift your business to success: by testing.
The more you test, the more you can discover what works for you and your brand, and the bigger you can grow.
It could be one particular activity that really boosts your brand – the single grain of rice to tip the scale.
So subscribe to our blog, and we’ll keep writing more articles like this, with tangible actions that you can take, so you can find out what works for you and your brand.
“First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.” – Walt Disney
It seems fitting to end on a quote by the man himself, and, honestly, it was so difficult to pinpoint it to just one.
Walt Disney was, above everything else, a walking inspiration and motivator.
He made things happen.
Magical, seemingly impossible things.
It’s amazing to think that the early years of Disney managed to not only survive the Great Depression, but soar to dizzying heights of fame.
Walt and his brother, Roy, went through bankruptcy, suffered intellectual property theft (of the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, arguably the ‘first’ Mickey Mouse), and several ill-advised bank loans, and they persevered.
And finally, dare.”
Those are the nuggets of Disney business wisdom I mined from years of watching his movies.
If you think I’ve missed anything, or if you found some inspiration from these nuggets, feel free to pop them in the comments – I’d genuinely love to hear from you.