How Disney’s constant rebrands helped it stay relevant

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Disney logo
(Image credit: Disney)

Disney is huge, and it’s been immense for decades – that’s nary secret. But nan Disney Channel itself became 1 of nan biggest influences connected pre-teen and teenage civilization for a spell of a decade aliases so, opening successful nan mid-2000s. It underwent a rebrand 2 decades ago, and arsenic had to do nan aforesaid again successful caller years – and different brands could study a point aliases 2 from its changeless reinvention.

When Anne Sweeney took complete arsenic president of Disney-ABC Television Group successful 2004, live-action shows for illustration Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven, featuring young casts dealing pinch nan accustomed coming-of-age issues – sometimes pinch supernatural aliases far-fetched elements – had proved celebrated for nan company. 

And she helped put successful spot a strategy wherever Disney would observe and beforehand teen stars who would put retired popular euphony marketed astatine nan tween and teen markets while simultaneously starring successful Disney Channel TV shows and movies. This began nan erstwhile year, pinch The Cheetah Girls – nan first Disney Channel Original Movie to beryllium a musical, but really kicked things up a notch successful 2006 pinch nan first High School Musical movie, arsenic good arsenic nan bid Hannah Montana, starring a definite Miley Cyrus arsenic nan titular character.

Disney Channel logo 2002

(Image credit: Disney)

Then location was Wizards of Waverly Place (Selena Gomez) and Sonny With A Chance (Demi Lovato), and Jonas (The Jonas Brothers), sitting alongside movies for illustration Princess Protection Program, Camp Rock, and Starstruck.

All of which helped Disney go a massively influential tastemaker pinch young girls. Rather than acquiring programming from elsewhere, it focused connected producing original contented done its ain accumulation company, It’s A Laugh Productions.

For boys, location was Disney XD, a sister transmission set up successful 2009 to switch Toon Disney. While it astir apt boasted much animated shows than nan Disney Channel itself, location were live-action bid for illustration Zeke and Luther, I’m successful nan Band, and Kickin’ It too. 

As nan 2010s began, pinch shows for illustration Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place starting to travel to an end, a caller procreation of shows started, for illustration Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Up. This coincided pinch group for illustration Justin Bieber and One Direction dominating teen pop, and Disney stopped pushing nan pipeline from starring successful its shows to having a successful euphony profession pinch nan aforesaid benignant of force. Shake It Up’s Zendaya has go a genuine world star, but that’s occurred almost solely done her acting career. Good Luck Charlie’s Bridgit Mendler tried a singing career, but it didn’t really travel off. 

The pursuing procreation of shows, for illustration Best Friends Whenever, Bizaardvark, and Stuck successful nan Middle, were again celebrated pinch Disney’s tween audience, but didn’t seizure nan zeitgeist successful nan aforesaid measurement arsenic a Hannah Montana, for example. And while immoderate of nan stars from this era, for illustration Olivia Rodrigo and Jenna Ortega, person gone connected to go large names, this hasn’t happened through Disney successful nan aforesaid way. It’s only really been Sabrina Carpenter, who starred successful nan sitcom Girl Meets World and nan movie Adventures successful Babysitting, who’s followed a akin trajectory to those stars a procreation earlier her.

The occurrence of Olivia Rodrigo, a decade younger than Cyrus, Gomez and Lovato, really reiterates nan displacement successful Disney’s strategy. Yes, successful 1 consciousness she’s different young prima to travel disconnected nan conveyer belt, having appeared successful Bizaardvark and past High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but her philharmonic influences and lyrical contented are worlds isolated from what you mightiness expect from a Disney teen star. Likewise, Jenna Ortega has made a sanction for herself arsenic a ‘scream queen’, starring successful a scope of critically acclaimed scary useful successful caller years. 

But nan Disney Channel would soon person to compete pinch societal media and video-sharing sites, pinch YouTubers and TikTokers. And, of course, streaming. Young group turned to platforms for illustration Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and watched little accepted TV. Teenage stars for illustration Jojo Siwa (for years associated pinch Nickelodeon, Disney’s rivals), Emma Chamberlain and Charli D’Amelio, who each changeable to prominence successful nan mid-to-late 2010s, each relied connected platforms for illustration YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram

Disney+ logo

(Image credit: Disney)

This is why a displacement successful attraction to Disney+ made cleanable sense. Outside of nan US, nan Disney Channel itself would close, pinch its contented moving to nan streaming platform. But alongside Disney Channel content, location are myriad classical Disney movies, but there’s besides Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and little child-oriented sitcoms for illustration Modern Family and New Girl. Meanwhile, nan Disney Channel itself has reduced its attraction connected pre-teen girls, going for much of a gender-neutral split. 

It’s still popular, if not nan taste behemoth it was 15 aliases 20 years ago, but Disney had to accommodate to nan emergence of nan first procreation of existent integer natives. Disney’s existent strategy isn’t perfect, and its much caller live-action shows haven’t each been brilliant, but it surely made nan correct move pinch nan Disney Channel. 

For much Disney branding and design, present are nan ten champion Disney logos of each time. Meanwhile, nan original creation of its iconic Mickey Mouse has entered nan nationalist domain this twelvemonth aft 96 years.

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Adam is simply a freelance journalist covering civilization and lifestyle, pinch complete 5 years’ of acquisition and a Master’s grade successful Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University. He’s antecedently written for publications including The Guardian, The Independent, Vice and Dazed, and was Senior Editor astatine from 2022 to 2023. When he’s not writing, he’s astir apt drinking coffee, listening to unrecorded music, aliases tinkering pinch his Apple devices.

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