Profile of a Great Company: Disney

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 23, 2012

When trying to figure out what makes a company a great company, we often look at a company’s product and how they deliver that product to their market. So where do you start when the company is Disney? What is their product? Is it their movies? Is it their television programming?  Maybe it’s their theme parks? Or how about their merchandise?

The answer is: All of the above—and none of the above! If you ask the folks at Disney what their product is, they’ll tell you: “We create happiness.” Their business is making people happy, and their brand and culture are built around that concept. And they never lose sight of that.

If you ask most consumers what makes Disney great, you’ll probably get two main responses. People may use different words to describe why they like Disney, but it generally comes down to quality and customer service.

Warren Buffet alluded to the caché of Disney’s brand when it comes to movies. People have a certain expectation of quality, consistency, and content when it comes to Disney movies—“Something,” as Buffet points our—“another studio like Universal could never match.” And that translates into trust. Buffet also talked about how a mother will pay more for a Disney movie for her kids (even one she hasn’t seen) because she knows what she’s going to get. And that goes back to Disney being all about “creating happiness.”

The same thing holds true for Disney’s theme parks. There’s a quality and an attention to detail that people expect. But there’s more. Disney is known for their customer service. Every employee has it drilled into him that the customer (the guest) comes first. The parks are built around the customer experience. And the employees are thoroughly trained to make each and every guest feel special. In other words, they are trained to “create happiness.”

Disney knows that their business is not movies or merchandise or theme parks. Their business is making people happy. But because they know that, it affects the movies they make, the merchandise they produce, and the way they build and run their theme parks.

What’s your real product? Maybe your company makes widgets, but are widgets really what you’re about? Or are you about helping people build things and solve problems with your widgets?

How you answer that question can mean the difference between being a great company and one that just gets by.