• Media & Entertainment is the #1 industry in our most recent Brand Intimacy Study
  • Disney, the #1 ranking brand in the media & entertainment industry, is also the top-ranking brand of the study overall. To view our latest Brand Intimacy Study, click here.
  • Disney manages to consistently perform well in our annual studies. To see Disney’s profile, click here.


Since its founding in 1923, the Walt Disney Company has exploded into a mass media and entertainment conglomerate, becoming a valued brand with a powerful reputation both domestically and internationally. What originally started as a small cartoon studio with a few whimsical characters quickly became a force of power with a significant presence in multiple industries, notably film, television, music, theme parks, and travel.

The stunning growth and evolution of the Walt Disney Company has been accompanied by a devoted and loving fanbase of both children and adults that has spanned generations, all enamored with and tied to the Disney brand. With a seemingly never-ending list of ways to enjoy what Disney has to offer, the company has successfully created one of the most ubiquitous, beloved brands in American history. Not content to rely on its storied past, Disney has continued to innovate through acquisitions of companies like Pixar, ESPN, and Marvel Studios, and through new ventures, like streaming services, to keep up with modern trends.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Disney is a consistent front-runner in our annual Brand Intimacy Study. Looking at the ways in which Disney connects with its consumers and responds to changing trends and expectations offers us insight on how the brand continues to dominate.

Disney’s Past and Present Brand Intimacy Performance

Not only is Disney the top-ranking brand in the media & entertainment industry, which is the top ranking industry out of 19, but it is also the #1 ranking brand in our most recent Brand Intimacy Study. This feat speaks to the high level of intimacy Disney has been able to establish and maintain with its consumers.

BIS 2022 Intimacy Industry Rankings: highlight media & entertainment industry as #1 overall
BIS Top 10 Rankings chart

With a Brand Intimacy Quotient Score of 68.1, Disney comes out ahead of the second-place finisher in our study, Tesla, by a difference of only 0.6 points.

However, where Disney really distinguishes itself is how it performs in archetypes and stages. Unsurprisingly, Disney’s strongest brand archetype over the years has been nostalgia, defined as when a brand focuses on memories of the past and the warm, poignant feelings associated with them. Oftentimes, these are brands a customer has grown up with. Although nostalgia is the strongest of the six archetypes, Disney performs well across the board, with high numbers in fulfillment, indulgence, enhancement, ritual, and identity as well. As we’ve seen in other top-performing brands, being able to diversify archetype strengths plays an integral part in building a highly successful and intimate brand.

Looking at the three stages of Brand Intimacy similarly supports the idea that Disney is unique in its ability to not only form relationships with its consumers, but retain and strengthen those relationships over time. Disney has 30% of users in the earliest Brand Intimacy stage, sharing, 14% in bonding, and 11% in fusing, the most advanced stage of Brand Intimacy. This balance shows the brand is successful at bringing in new customers, maintaining connections with current customers, and developing a strong group of devoted Disney lovers. Overall, of the consumers who write about Disney, 55.4% are in some form of intimacy with the brand, which is more than double the study average.

Disney brand archetypes and stages chart

In recent years, Disney has consistently ranked in the top 10 brands overall. Although it was last #1 in 2019, it has continued to perform well even through the pandemic and finally returned to the top spot this past year.

Disney Ranking Chart

Appealing to Nostalgia

After making magic for 100 years, the Disney brand is certainly able to capitalize on feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality. At this point in time, even our oldest generations grew up with Disney in one way or another. Whether it be through classic movies like Pinocchio and Cinderella or family trips to one of the many Disney theme parks, it is hard to either escape or ignore such an omnipresent company.

Having built a lasting legacy, Disney is an expert in continuing to capitalize on and remind its audiences of its charm. Decade after decade, Disney’s relationships with consumers only grow as those individuals become older, have families, and introduce the brand they love to their own children. Fostering a bond between parents and children highlights the seemingly immortal nature of the company, which lives on in each generation of children who are raised on its stories and magic.

Tweets about Disney

The passionate, extremely loyal group of middle-aged Disney fanatics, often referred to as “Disney adults,” has garnered increasing attention, criticism, and analysis in recent years. The rise of social media in particular has allowed this community to connect with like-minded individuals, bond over their shared affinity, and grow.

It has been suggested that for some, Disney is like a religion, with its rituals and magic.1 Professor Eichler-Levine wrote, “For some people—both those who have another ‘traditional’ religion and those who don’t—the promise of magic at Disney and the feelings they get there are powerful.”2

In an effort to appeal both to old memories and create new ones, Disney has thrown significant investment into the world of “live-action remakes.” 2016’s remake of the The Jungle Book, 2015’s Cinderella, 2020’s Mulan, and 2022’s Pinocchio are only a handful of the many live action remakes designed to retell a familiar story to new audiences while also trying to align with modern trends and technologies.

Though the Disney brand as a whole is a true exemplar of building lasting consumer bonds, the Disney Theme Parks brand, specifically, is the top performer in our hospitality & theme parks industry. Consumers have a similarly strong bond with the physical experience of visiting Disney Theme Parks, and frequently praise the “magic” of the brand.

Tweets about Disney Theme Parks

Keeping Up with the Future

The recent push to keep up with trends and somehow integrate new, popular technologies, specifically AI and virtual reality, into companies across industries has had a notable impact on Disney.

Even a brand as successful as Disney has had some missteps as it looks to advance. The brand launched Disney Movies VR, an app designed to offer a fully immersive Disney experience.3 This venture promised users the ability to experience Disney theme parks and movie scenes in virtual reality through the use of VR gear and programs like Oculus. Receiving mixed reviews and little promotion since its inception, the project does not appear to be one of Disney’s most successful.

Similarly, Disney’s dive into exploring the metaverse resulted in a major loss. In March, it was reported that Disney would eliminate the entirely of its Metaverse Division, laying off all of the team’s roughly 50 members.4 The unit, described as “next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences,” was working on finding ways to tell interactive stories in new formats. Robert Iger, Disney’s current CEO, had previously described the metaverse as “the next great storytelling frontier.”5 These layoffs aligned with a broader company restructuring that plans to terminate the jobs of over 7,000 Disney employees.

These efforts to compete in tech spaces with companies like Meta, Google, and Microsoft reflect Disney’s lofty ambitions to excel in multiple different verticals. The rise of streaming services over traditional cable programming also prompted a response from Disney, which introduced Disney+ in 2019 as a direct competitor to platforms like Netflix and Hulu. The streaming service saw gradual, significant growth, peaking with 164 million subscribers in the final quarter of 2022.6 However, a decline in subscribers since then led to a merger between Disney+ and Hulu, according a recent announcement that the two platforms would be combined into one to grow subscribers.7


The Walt Disney Company is arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Its global presence and success in different industries have cemented its lasting legacy in popular culture.

Disney’s ability to form and maintain highly emotional bonds with its consumers is notable, with some even comparing it to a religion. Supported by 100 years of storytelling, the Disney brand is as strong as ever, raking in an annual gross profit of over $28 billion in 2022.

Moving forward, one of Disney’s most apparent challenges is understanding and keeping up with changes in trends and technology. While the storied brand is certainly an expert in its craft, its forays into new industries seem to be accompanied by significant growing pains.

Disney’s dependence on maintaining bonds based on nostalgia means that the brand must continue to evoke feelings of remembrance and sentimentality with each new generation. While this has helped Disney grow with its audiences, it may, in some ways, confine the brand to what is already familiar to its customers and restrict the integration of totally new ideas.

Read our detailed methodology here, and get an overview of Brand Intimacy here. Our Amazon best-selling book is available at all your favorite booksellers. To learn more about our Agency, Lab, and Platform, visit mblm.com.


1 “Don’t Judge Disney Adults. Try to Understand Them.” By nbcnews.com https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/disney-bride-groom-draw-twitter-hate-disney-adults-not-bad-rcna32851

2 Ibid

3 “Disney Movies VR.” by Disney https://www.disneymoviesvr.com/

4 “Disney Eliminates Its Metaverse Division as Part of Company’s Layoffs Plan.” By wsj.com https://www.wsj.com/articles/disney-eliminates-its-metaverse-division-as-part-of-companys-layoffs-plan-94b03650

5 Ibid

6 “Number of Disney Plus subscribers worldwide from 1st quarter 2020 to 2nd quarter 2023.” By statista.com https://www.statista.com/statistics/1095372/disney-plus-number-of-subscribers-us/

7 “Disney will bring Hulu content into Disney Plus and raise its ad-free prices.” By theverge.com https://www.theverge.com/2023/5/10/23718969/disney-plus-hulu-combining-same-app-us

8 “Disney Gross Profit 2010-2023 | DIS.” By macrotrends.com https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/DIS/disney/gross-profit

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