Disney is one of the biggest and most recognizable brands, perhaps second only to Star Wars (which it now owns after buying it from George Lucas for USD 4 billion). There is no doubt that Disney is a media empire, with divisions all around the world. Even Disney’s theme parks (Disneyland, Disneyworld) are some of the most popular tourist destinations of all time.
But how did Disney become the giant it is today?
Walt Disney was born in 1901, and he enjoyed painting and drawing from an early age. He sold his artwork as a youngster to neighbours and family friends, showing that he already was developing his business side as well.
After some successes and failures in art and animation businesses, Walt, alongside his brother Roy and Ub Iwerks, formed Walt Disney Studios in 1923. This is the era in which the iconic character of Mickey Mouse was born.
Steamboat Willie and Snow White were some of the earliest big success for the Disney brand. Snow White started a trend of Disney animating classic fairy tales and cultural mythologies which saw the creation of iconic Disney age films like The Little Mermaid and Hercules.
Like Star Wars, merchandise attached to these classic films was a massive part in the financial success of the Disney brand. Even though Mickey Mouse does not star in many pieces of media, his character is still iconic and popular with children to this very day.
The Disney brand is also well-known for its pioneering in film technology. They were the first to produce colour cartoons and the first to mix cartoons with live-action performances (Mary Poppins). This trend continues today with the use of CGI actors in many of the newest Star Wars films produced by Disney.