Part 1: My Empire-Building Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms #DSMM


Disclosure: As a guest of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received a discounted experience at the Disneyland Parks, and lots of cool stuff.  All opinions are my own!

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, California as an invited guest of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  It was my second time returning to the event and I decided to bring along my mom and my sister this year for a girls getaway that was long overdue!  We had a blast enjoying the parks together and spending some QT on the Left Coast.  Of course, Disney pulled out ALL of the stops for our group and reminded us (again) why they are the undisputed leader in their industry.  It all came down to the attention to detail, customer experience, but most of all – the intentionality behind all that they do.

I could go on about the rides (although I will take the opportunity to tell you that you must, MUST, visit CarsLand if you are a fan of the movie! and I loved the Matterhorn Bobsleds), the shows (I may or may not have cried during World of Color), and the characters (I got to meet Anna and Elsa!!), but, because brand building is my business, I want to share some of the takeaways that stuck with me from the conference portion of our time there.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 1.58.53 AM

It’s funny just how much of the strategies that the Disney brand employs relate to bloggers and content creators like us.  At the end of the day, their (and our) success boils down to stellar storytelling.  I know we hear it all the time, at every blog conference we attend so it sounds cliché – but it really is the foundation for a successful brand.  Jay Ward, Franchise Guardian for Disney-Pixar’s CARS shared with us the thought-process behind the monster success of that movie.  The premise was simple:

If you don’t have a great story, you don’t have a great movie or great products.

And he quoted, naturally, Steve Jobs, a former Chairman and CEO of Pixar, and someone who knew a little something about building an iconic brand:

“Only make good stuff, and make less of it” – Steve Jobs

Jay offered up these 4 questions that the Pixar team asks themselves each time they are considering a new idea:

  1. Why are we making this?
  2. Does it further the Pixar story?
  3. Does it grow and enrich the brand?
  4. If it doesn’t do these things, then why are we doing it?

Of course these questions really resonated with me because I am a big fan of Filter Questions.  So often, opportunities for new projects, collaborations or seemingly exciting directions are thrown our way in this space and it’s hard not to get blinded or distracted by all of the shiny objects.  These 4 questions are easily transferable to all industries and it’s comforting to know that Disney has had success following this path when we are worried about #FOMO.  He gave a fictitious example of a proposed idea for a Merida (from the movie Brave) toothbrush.  Jay talked through each step – and some of them did make sense – but when he got to the part where the toothbrush was cheaply made and fell apart in the consumer’s hands, that’s when he knew it was a no-go; having a cheap product certainly doesn’t grow or enrich the Disney brand.  And it wasn’t to say that the idea was a total failure, but in its current form it would not work without some tweaks.

Justice Fergie and Lightning McQueen #DSMM

Jay also talked about the cornerstones of the Pixar brand:

  1. Quality

  2. Innovation

  3. Storytelling


Jay Ward.  photo credit: Josh Hallett


What I loved most was that in developing the plotline for the CARS Movie, and then translating the movie into a Disneyland park experience, the Pixar team was devoted to making things ‘On Model’ – everything had to follow the rules of the story.  This dedication to authenticity and storytelling is what makes their experiences so believable and untouchable!  The thought and effort put into CARSLand is phenomenal! They showed us this video about part of the making of Radiator Springs and seeing it IRL was insane.  Really, he said it all with this quote:

“This [CARSLand] is a love letter written to the fans of the movie”


The Making of Carsland: Siemens/Disney Collaboration (*produced while Kate was at Synaptic Digital) from kate epstein on Vimeo.


Which got me thinking: what does your brand’s love letter to your fans look like?

Disclosure: As a guest of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received a discounted experience at the Disneyland Parks, and lots of cool stuff.  All opinions are my own!

SHARE:Email to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on Pinterest


Talk to Me.