Day 2 in Orlando, and I don’t have many negatives to report about the Magic Kingdom. Sure, most of the tram drivers and other Disney “Cast Members” appear to be on (awesome) anti-depressants, but the whole Disney experience is polished and energetic.

What struck me today was the number of brands who have opened up stores or parks or even hotels in an effort to feed off the customer base of what used to be the only show in town, and what is still the main show in town.

A few years ago, while walking in Bushy Park near London, I was struck by beautiful mistletoe branches growing on Chestnut trees. My father, who has a PhD in forestry, explained to me the concept of parasitic flowering plants. The parasitic plant steals all its food from the host plant. Here’s an example of mistletoe growing on pine:

Screen shot 2010-01-28 at 21.58.28

Mistletoe growing on Pine

Speaking of parasitic mutation, a very popular hotel near the Disney Parks is the Nickelodeon Orlando. The idea makes sense: there are millions of kids who stay in Orlando to go to Disney World, so the Nick business development team decided to place their only hotel here to try it out.

The problem is, it looks like a Kazakhstani dormitory. Seriously.  Here is a Kazakhstani dormitory:

Kazakhstani Dormitory

Kazakhstani Dormitory

And here is the Nick Hotel:

Nick Hotel Orlando

Nick Hotel Orlando

Ok, so I mixed them up.

My brand point today is, just because you have a base of someone else’s customers to feed off, doesn’t mean you can cut corners in areas like basic design. If this is the basis of the Nick hotel formula, this concept will never fly in other cities where they have to get their own customers.

We told my older son that this is the jail where bad kids who watch too much Nick Jr go to. On aesthetics, he had no reason to doubt us.

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Brand Design