Mickey’s Ten Command-ments for the Setting

In yesterday’s post the concept of the “setting” at Disney was introduced. Going a little deeper, from the excellent guest services book Be Our Guest, Disney vice chairman Marty Sklar gave the following list of setting design principles:

  • Know your audience – before creating a setting, obtain a firm understanding of who will be using it
  • Wear your guest’s shoes – never forget the human factor; evaluate your setting from the guest’s perspective by experiencing it as a guest
  • Organize the flow of people and ideas – think of your setting as a story; tell that story in an organized, sequenced way
  • Create a visual magnet – a landmark used to orient and attract guests
  • Communicate with visual literacy – use the common languages of color, shape, and form to communicate through setting
  • Avoid overload – do not bombard guests with information; let them chose the information they want when they want it
  • Tell one story at a time – mixing multiple stories in a singe setting is confusing; create one setting for each big idea
  • Avoid contradictions – every detail and every setting should support and further your organizational identity and mission
  • For every ounce of treatment provide a ton of treat – give your guests the highest value by building an interactive setting that gives them the opportunity to exercise all of their senses
  • Keep it up – never get complacent and always maintain your setting

Around the Disney organization, these principles were known as “Mickey’s Ten Commandments for the Setting.” Whether it was a movie, a book, or a theme park, the Imagineers at Disney know the importance of setting as they told their stories.

What stories are your settings telling?

From Be Our Guest, by The Disney Institute


Everything Matters

All organizations, knowingly or unknowingly, build messages to their customers (Guests) into the settings in which they operate.

Consider these pairs:

  • A luxury car dealership and a used car lot
  • A theme park and a traveling carnival
  • A designer clothing retailer and an outlet store

In each pair, people are buying a similar product – cars, entertainment, and apparel. But in each case, the setting in which they buy these products is communicating a great deal about the quality of the products and services customers can expect, not to mention the price they are willing to pay.

The simple fact is that everything, animate and inanimate, speaks to customers.

The above words come from “Be Our Guest,” the fantastic customer service book published by The Disney Institute. Talk to me very long about Guest Services, and you will hear me talk about Disney – probably several times!

Yesterday it was about Process; today, it’s all about Place.  When you think about a physical setting, it’s appropriate to start at Disney and understand what they call “the magic of setting.”

Setting is the environment in which service is delivered to customers, all of the objects within that environment, and the procedures used to enhance and maintain the service environment and objects.

Components include:

  • Architectural design
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Signage
  • Directional designs on flooring and wall coverings
  • Texture of floor surfaces
  • Focal points and directional signs
  • Internal and external detail
  • Music and ambient noise
  • Smell
  • Touch and tactile experiences
  • Taste

Quite a list, right? Remember that when considering Guest Services…

Everything matters.

From Be Our Guest, by the Disney Institute