Disney's Brand Architecture Challenge

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A studio like Fox could take a chance and make a superhero film like Deadpool, but can Disney?

Much to the chagrin of movie fans the world over, Disney are hoovering up rival studios all over the place. Pixar, LucasFilm and Marvel have all fallen under the control of the Mouse House in recent years and you’ll now be hard pressed to find a movie website where people aren’t complaining that everything they once loved is becoming ‘Disney-fied” and family-friendly. 

It’s been on the cards for a while now but it looks very possible that Fox Studios will be the next acquisition. Fox currently holds the rights to several franchises including the X-Men, Alien, and Predator. This raises a number of questions:‚Äč

  • Will we finally get to see my fan-fiction script of “Goofy Vs Predator” in production?
  • Will Aliens, born of the Queen, now officially become Disney princesses?
  • How will Disney juggle some of Fox’s more adult titles in their brand architecture?

Disney are well known for protecting their brand and that brand has never been about creatures trying to murder everyone, although I’ve not seen Cars 3 yet so someone please correct me if I’m wrong. So what does this mean for the future of films like Aliens? How does something like that franchise fit in to the Disney brand architecture? Whereas a studio like Fox could take a chance and make a superhero film like Deadpool, can Disney?

Time For Change?

Brand architecture can be organised in many different ways. Sometimes you may want to piggyback on the well known values of a brand so any sub-brands will reference it in some way. Think of Virgin Trains, Hotels, Media, etc. Sometimes however you may want to obscure the link between two brands under one roof because they might have different goals. Many people don’t realise that Innocent Drinks are 90% owned by Coca-Cola for example, as this link is never really made explicit. 

So what will Disney do? This purchase feels slightly different as studios like Pixar weren’t knocking out too many slasher flicks before they were under the Disney banner. Fox is the company that made the Die Hard films and not many of those could really be considered family friendly. Does this mean that we won’t see any more Die Hard films? No more Aliens or Predators?

Alien Vs Princesses

It’s possible that Disney will continue to produce those films and just hide the link between themselves and their Fox Studios arm. If the link is widely known then it could change the perception of the parent brand. Negativity spreads and to many people, a family friendly brand like Disney making films about aliens out to murder everyone is a bad move. Will most people even know that they’re the same company? Probably not, and most of those who do won’t care. But some will and many of them will be vocal in their protests and a lot of brands these days are terrified of that loud minority.

Perhaps of course this is a move towards more varied content from Disney. The overwhelming perception is one of family-friendly entertainment but maybe we will begin to see content that isn’t intended to be viewed by everyone. Disney’s own mission now states that they want to use their “portfolio of brands to differentiate their content” so could that content be getting more diverse? Are Disney going to embrace entertainment for the bigger kids out there?