This 1957 drawing reveals the brilliant strategy behind Disney's lasting success

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Disneyland in Anaheim, California, celebrates its 60th anniversary on Friday.

The success of the original park, which opened July 17, 1955, sparked the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and eventually led to the construction of nine other parks and resorts operated by Disney worldwide.

The Walt Disney Company's parks and resorts brought in more than $15 billion in revenue for the fiscal year 2014, about one-third of the company's total $49 billion in revenue. They are just one component of the company's smart global strategy of diversified media assets and consistent branding, which can be traced back some six decades.

The below 1957 drawing from the Disney archives, which we spotted on Design Taxi, illustrates Disney's original corporate strategy:


Photo Credit: Design Taxi


The image depicts Disney's core business as grounded in films, with a portfolio of entertainment assets that are supported by and also reinforce the movies.

For example, raw materials from the films were fed directly to Disney's publications, which in turn did direct advertising for Disney's movies and theme parks. Meanwhile, the parks provided a sales outlet for Disney merchandise.

While the strategy has probably evolved over the years, the philosophy seems consistent with the company's operations today. Each of Disney's extensions work together as a whole, fueled by the original content from Disney movies.

"The strategic vision that Walt [Disney] long ago composed has revealed a succession of strategic possibilities that have fueled a remarkable record of value creating growth," strategic leadership professor Todd Zenger writes in the Harvard Business Review. "Only firms that possess such vision can participate in markets for assets and predictably generate value post acquisition."

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