Disney’s going through some troubles of late, but once upon a time it managed to sustain smashing business success for decades.

And by “smashing” I mean beyond the wildest dreams of mere mortals.

So, naturally, there are countless business consultants just itching to reveal the secrets to Disney’s operational excellence and service culture.

Which is all well and good — there certainly IS valuable stuff to learn there.

But it ENTIRELY misses the magic.

Visitors to Disney World may well have enjoyed their trip to the Magic Kingdom a bit more because of Disney’s Four Keys, but that’s not what brought them there in the first place.

They came because of the movies — they came because of the characters and the stories.

But don’t take my word for it; take Walt’s.

In 1957 Walt Disney sketched out the synergistic operation of the Disney Empire as a cool little mind map / flow chart you can see below:

See what’s smack in the middle of that chart?

“Creative Talent of Studio Theatrical Films”

That means Characters and Story are at the center. Character and Story powers everything else in the Disney Business Empire.

Without character and story, nothing else works.

No parent ever paid extortionate fees to take their child to Disney World during summer break to sweat their ass off in Orlando so that they could experience the special hospitality that comes from being thought of as a guest rather than a customer.

Or to enjoy the fact that the trash cans are always only 20% full. Or any of the other bullshit that consultants like to jibber-jabber about.

They came for the freaking princesses and all the other cool characters they fell in love with as a child.

They came because of the stories and characters.

And Walt Disney knew that which is why he put that at the center of his business empire.

Are Stories and Character at the Center of Your Growth Goals?

Few people expect to grow a serious business without advertising. And once you’re big enough, mass media advertising also becomes a must.

You gotta find a way to get customers in the door (or on the phones) and marketing is usually seen as the answer.

But business owners usually screw that up in two ways.

First, they don’t allocate 60% of their marketing budget to long-term branding.

They may use mass media, but they misuse it to run strictly transactional ads.

And long-term brand building, fueled by a sufficient share of voice, is a must for long-term growth and profitability.

Second, business owners (and marketers) rarely put characters and stories at the center of their branding efforts.

They don’t tell their Origin Story.

They don’t share their “war wounds,” vulnerabilities, and lessons learned.

They don’t speak with a unique voice, perspective, and personality.

And they don’t adopt any kid of earwormy or memorable schtick that sticks.

So if you’re advertising for growth, and you haven’t put character and story at the center of your plans…

Stop wishing on a shooting star, and hire a professional to make all your business growth dreams come true.