It’s Mickey’s 90th birthday. Cheers! In addition to maintaining such a timeless brand, Disney has diversified in myriad ways. My favorite example is its acquisition of Pixar. Here’s what brands can learn from their endlessly inventive stories:

Up and aging:

Since Mickey is a nonagenarian now, it’s apt that we start with a movie about retirement. This in itself is pretty revolutionary. Up begins where most movies would end, but with an aging population, it’s surprising it took so long to get here. Healthcare brands have of course taken note, but a changing attitude to aging reverberates across categories – with even Neutrogena letting go of the term anti-aging. What is your brand doing to address this key life stage?

WALL-E and the seamless product experience:

WALL-E asks us to take the seamless product experience to its logical conclusion. The dystopia of people never getting up from their couches seems pretty far-fetched, until you consider that we can get almost anything with the click of a button. Luckily, we’re also seeing the opposite trend of brands making consumers work to elevate engagement. For example, Nike has had scavenger hunts to release its limited edition sneakers, creating a far more immersive and fun path to purchase. What can you do to make consumers chase your brand?

Inside Out and imperfections:

Saying it’s okay for kids to be sad is a pretty big deal, especially when this message comes from the happiest place on earth. This balance between aspiration and honesty is probably the toughest to strike, which is why I like it most. It’s great that Disney is focusing more on the imperfect – even spotlighting villains (remember the wise words of Wreck It Ralph – just because you’re the Bad Guy doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy). What does it mean for brands? It’s okay to highlight imperfections. A strange but wonderful application is a recent start-up called Scraps Food, which makes frozen food from bruised vegetables and other ingredients no one will buy. It’s a really smart way to bring freshness to the frozen category (and reduce food waste).

Whether it’s a new segment, experience or emotional inflection, there’s a lot to get inspired by. What’s the Pixar to your Disney?

Categories: Brands & Branding

BY ENGINEER Irina Ikonsky

irina.ikonsky@thevalueengineers.com