Lessons from Finding Dory and Ghostbusters on sticking to your brand’s values. 

I saw Finding Dory over the weekend with my 8 year old.  She wanted to see it because, given it was launched in 2003, she’s known Nemo literally her entire life.  And I wanted to see it because I loved watching Nemo with her as a toddler.  And it didn’t disappoint.  It’s Finding Nemo 2.0:  same formula, same cute and funny characters, same happy-sad-happy mood swings…kinda like a toddler, no?  But with a few changes to keep it fresh, namely Ellen DeGeneres as the lead.  They played it safe which, if the box office numbers are any indication, is making parents and kids very happy. 

Now, travel back 30 years to when I was a kid and seeing Ghostbusters for the first time.  I loved it then and I’m super curious to see what they’ve done with it now.  Where Finding Dory is a continuation of the original story, Ghostbusters is a reboot of the original. Director Paul Feig said “I thought I’d rather do it as a reboot, so I wasn’t tied to the old movies.  The old movies are so good, I didn’t want to mess with them”.  Respect.  But is that enough to keep original fans happy while attracting new ones?  It’s almost impossible to live up to something as iconic as Ghostbusters, where there’s an entire generation of adults who, as kids, thought it was the coolest thing they’d ever seen.  With the right mix of the same formula, settings and jokes plus the new all-female lead cast we think it is.  (I’ll admit I’m disappointed the theme song isn’t the same.  We miss you Ray Parker Jr.)

The lesson for marketers when updating your brand:  stick to the values your brand originally started with.  The model can, and probably should, change but what it stands for should be absolute.  By knowing your brand, your customers and your aspirations you can determine if you should stick tight to the script like Dory or shake it up like Ghostbusters.