What Disney’s Tiana can teach us about rebranding

What Disney's Tiana can teach us about rebranding

As silly as it sounds, I still go crazy over a good Disney movie. It’s hard not to. The music is catchy, the themes are sweet and the characters are memorable.

In fact, there’s one particular movie/character I adore so much, I turned her story into an arc about rebranding.

And they say TV rots your brain.

Anyways, the media in question is The Princess and the Frog. In my opinion, this is Disney’s magnum opus. Today, we’re going to focus on the main character, Tiana, and what her story can teach us about rebranding yourself.

1. Tiana is willing to put in the work.

This is from one of the opening scenes in the movie, and I think it says it all.

Been there.

What we’re seeing is the tail-end of Tiana’s day. She has dreams of opening up her own restaurant, and she is putting in the grunt work to get there. She works non-stop as a waitress to get the necessary experience (and funds).

When rebranding to a new career or field, this may mean taking on menial tasks or jobs you might feel are below your pay grade. It’s all part of the processes. One that Tiana really embraces. She’s been working for years, and is more than qualified, but really puts her best foot forward at her job every day.

2. Tiana knows her audience

Tiana’s dream of owning her own restaurant is one she shared with her late father. That holds a special place in her heart, but it’s not one that she readily shares.

One of my favorite scenes is toward the beginning, when Tiana and her mom are sweeping out the warehouse that Tiana has in mind for her eventual restaurant. It’s a great example of how we talk to our parents vs. how we talk to others.

You may have amazing titles and years worth of experience, but that won’t matter if you don’t try to see the problem your potential employer is looking to solve.

Much like Tiana assures her mom (who is getting impatient) that she’s “almost there,” know what needs you can meet and emphasize them.

3. Tiana has a unique story

Sure, not everyone gets turned into a frog and has to go on a magical quest to find true love and switch back (although if that’s you, find my contact page and tell me everything please). But Tiana’s situation meant that she saw her home of New Orleans (and thus, her future business) differently, and was able to leverage that into her eventual restaurant.

Seriously, if I ever saw a jazz-playing alligator at any location, I will be first in line.

One specific example I’d like to call out comes from Harvard Business Review’s “Reinventing Your Personal Brand.”

“Robert Reich, the former U.S. secretary of labor and my previous employer (I headed up communications when he ran for Massachusetts governor), is under five feet tall. He knew that people seeing him for the first time would be surprised—and he didn’t want his height to be a distraction. So he’d loosen up crowds with a joke or two about his stature and, in the same vein, titled his campaign book I’ll Be Short.  Like it or not, “short” was part of his brand—and he shrewdly leveraged it.”

Whether you’ve been turned into a frog or missed a growth spurt, use it to your advantage. I have a cowlick. I tell people it helps me stand out (pun intended).

I hope you didn’t mind my little reverie to Princess Tiana. I really do think she has a lot to say about the working world, whether that was Disney’s intention or not. 

Regardless, your homework for tonight is to watch “The Princess and the Frog” before you start your rebrand. I think it’ll help motivate you.


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