I've just returned from Disney World -- "Where Dreams Can Come True" -- where I experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly in marketing.
In Disney World, everyone is considered a cast member, from the actors and dancers to the behind-the-scenes events coordinators.
This contributes to the idea that all Disney employees are always on stage at all times, have an audience and therefore must live out the Disney brand by extending enthusiastic happiness, friendship, and good service to everyone.
- Everyone we encountered was pleasant and eager to answer any questions we had. If you thought you had a problem, don't worry. They'd have a solution.
- Logistics were worked out so lines moved quickly (or you could get a "fastpass" for a specified time to avoid having to stand in line for a long time)
- Everywhere you looked, you were reminded of the mouse -- and the fun and joy that comes with any Disney-related thing. Stores were everywhere and despite trying to avoid the consumer trap, you felt you really wanted to buy anything identified with the Disney brand.
On the opposite side of the spectrum was our hotel.
We stayed at a hotel outside the Disney World system. They lived outside the Disney brand.
- When my one person asked for an extra blanket around 11:30 at night -- it took more than two hours and a second visit to the front desk (where she was informed that the staff were busy) before she received said blanket (which was about as thick as her bed sheets).
- Rooms were moldy or smelled of cigarette smoke (despite asking for smokeless rooms), sliding glass doors to the outside didn't open in most of the rooms, and toilets were slow in flushing.
- Morning wakeup calls were typically 20-30 minutes late.
Of course, this may just be a case of "you get what you pay for." Clearly, if we had paid for hotel rooms inside the park, service would have carried the Disney brand.
What stood out, however, was the contrast between experiences.
I will definitely go back to Disney World. But I will not likely return to the hotel. Nor will I recommend it to anyone else. And while the hotel chain is a brand name, this stay has lowered my expectations for the overall brand.
Branding goes beyond a logo or an affiliation.
A good brand causes you to return time after time to share the experience whereas a bad brand sends you away in another direction, looking for fulfillment elsewhere.
Which gets back to the idea of living your brand. No matter who you are, how you live on a day-to-day basis has ramifications for your organization, your association, and your family.
Everywhere you go, you carry your family's name, your organization's name, your association's name with you and you are it's representative. You are part of a brand.
Are you living your brand?