A Quick Look at: Disney’s Cinematic Intro

Rarely has a company captured the hearts and minds of the entire world in the same way that Walt Disney has. From iconic characters like Mickey Mouse to animated classics like Toy Story, you can be sure that we’ve all enjoyed the company of Disney and friends at one point or another.

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As I write this post, I’m gearing up for my family holiday to Florida, USA. And indeed, I will be visiting the house of mouse. (Since I wrote this post, and in the subsequent months we’ve been working on these new blogs, I’ve been to Disney. This doesn’t alter my excitement or love for the mouse; it only grows.) I have to admit I’m having trouble containing my excitement.

This morning, I was eagerly changing my alarm tone, searching frantically for the short version of “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the new Disney movie intro:

I couldn’t find the soundbite and ended up settling for “Hakuna Matata” (What a wonderful day!) so tomorrow, that will scare the life out of me at 7:00 a.m. However, I did come across a wonderful discussion about the current Disney movie studio introduction and how it had evolved over the years.

It got me looking at Disney’s ever-changing cinematic introduction in more detail and thinking about how it had evolved over the years. I also looked at some Disney movies that use the logo introduction in a different way, and it was interesting to see how they use and adapt their famous castle logo when appropriate.

There are some great uses of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, and I want to share them with you below:

The Disney Cinematic Intro

Oz: The Great and Powerful

I’m going to put it out there right now. The original Wizard of Oz (the technicolour masterpiece!) is my favourite movie of all time. So when Disney announced Oz: The Great and Powerful with James Franco taking the title role, I was all eyes.

Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t up to much, but from the black and white castle to the zooming in and carnival style title sequence, the introduction was spectacular.

Chicken Little

The intro to Chicken Little came in between the old, flat style castle and the new 3D castle render. However, there were several films after this to still feature the flat logo. I can’t help but think that this Disney intro is what inspired them to go down the 3D route in the coming years.

Enchanted

The film Enchanted did a mix of things well. From the cartoon aesthetic blending with the live action aesthetic to the intro blending the new 3D castle with Disney’s old style credit sequence typography, Enchanted is a visual feast. The sequence is designed to grab our attention and draw us into the story from the beginning – a masterful technique that Disney uses over and over again.

Moana

We couldn’t leave out Disney’s newest animation creation, Moana, that shows just how much the Disney brand has continued to evolve visually. With stunningly bright, vivid colours and a rapid pace of story, script, and music, the brand appeals to the digitally-charged kids of today. Have you noticed how slow and muted the old Disney films seem to be compared to the bright offerings we have today? The brand keeps evolving and staying on top of the animation marketplace; that’s for sure.

Of course, we couldn’t call ourselves designers if we didn’t talk about other compelling parts of the Disney brand, starting with their typography.

Disney Typography

Typography is often underestimated, overlooked, and not given enough credit for how it helps bolster a brand. As you can see in the myriad of Disney examples above, fonts and typefaces do make a difference.

As we build brands and websites, making smart typography decisions means understanding the impact of each type of font. It’s not surprising to see many sites with beautifully laid out graphics, animations, sliders – the whole bit – as well as font choices that just don’t make sense.

Did you know that most Disney movies have their own uniquely created fonts?

Frozen

When Disney released this blockbuster movie, graphic designers from all around the world tried to replicate the chilling effect of this font for their projects. With countless replications out there, it doesn’t take long for one to find various versions of the Frozen font, including many tutorials on how to create that chilly effect in Photoshop.

That’s the power of a well-crafted design on any level. If people out there are trying to replicate your art, you know you are onto something. That’s the power of Disney. The Disney brand prides itself on originality, on being the first, and on being the best. They are widely known for hiring the world’s brightest and most-talented designers and push their brand to create new ideas continually.

Hercules

The opening sequence of Hercules seems to set up the title font (and storyline) pretty well. You can see the ancient ruins of Rome come alive as the legend of the great Hercules is awakened in this Disney-fied version of mythology. The typography experts at Disney used this as the inspiration to create the Hercules movie font. With strong lines and bronze-coloured graphics, this font evokes those ancient ruins nicely, don’t you think?

Hercules Movie font

The Walt Disney Font

walt-disney-font

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk a little about the classic Walt Disney font, Waltograph. With its whimsy and air of fantasy, is there anyone among us who doesn’t recognize this classic font style as Disney?

There are a few variations of this classic font and this version may not be entirely accurate, however we love its classic brushstrokes and loose flowing style. It takes you right back to the desk of Walt Disney himself as he reached for his classic fountain pen and stroked a few Mickeys from his imagination.

The Walt Disney Marketing Vision

disney-strategy

Walt Disney was years ahead of his time when it came to mass marketing and merchandising. He created more than just movies, beloved characters, or comic strips – he created the brand of pure happiness. Every time you purchase a toy, you buy a little piece of happy.

“The happiest place on earth” isn’t just a snappy catchphrase, it’s dedication. If you ever get a chance to visit the Magic Kingdom, you’ll see what that means. It’s the place where you can wish upon a star until your heart’s content. There’s not a touch of litter on the beautifully-designed grounds, and when Sleeping Beauty’s castle greets you and your family as you enter the park, you are immediately transported to a land where make-believe exists, and every person is a child again.

This multi-level brand integration continues as Disney dominates the marketplace. With every new film, song, and plush toy that we buy, we help cement the Disney brand. That’s how we all need to think about branding. It’s not just about a snappy, sharp logo that looks good on your letterhead. It’s creating that emotional bond between you and your audience.

We’ve talked a lot about branding here on our blog, and what that means for a company. We’ve even discussed how Coca-Cola is so adept at branding; it branded Christmas, of all things!

What do you think about Disney’s branding and how they handle the branding of their properties? Are there any other great examples of cinema branding you could share? Let us know in the comments below!

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