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They connect with consumers

How 3 companies – Disneyland, Starbucks and Oakley – succeed by building trust bridges with their audiences.

by steve churm
CEO / Executive Editor,
Churm Media
Published: June 01, 2012

It showed on George Kalogridis’ face. Grinning from ear-to-ear, the affable president of the Disneyland Resort knew his team was connecting with the dinner audience. It’s what Disney does, and has always done, so smoothly. On this weeknight, upstairs in the iconic Disneyland Hotel overlooking the resort’s sweeping pool deck, the magic was on full display. Ten Orange County teenagers were receiving a total of $50,000 in college scholarships for their community service work as high school seniors.
“This is truly one of my favorite nights of the year,” Kalogridis told the coat-and-tie gathering of nearly 100. “I’m so proud of these students.”

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As the evening ended, the Disney team had affirmed again why its brand is so trusted and its customer base so loyal. “This company cares about its community,” said one elated mother of a scholarship winner. “Some companies say they do, but Disney truly does.”
Make no mistake: Disneyland is a business – big business. Kalogridis and his senior managers are acutely aware of the pressure for this public company to deliver a Matterhorn-sized return on its bottom line. Since Walt Disney made his first movie 80 years ago, the company has achieved worldwide success by listening to their guests first and then delivering what they want. They connect with end users better than most corporations. The result is a feeling by consumers that Disney cares about their experience, an outcome most companies simply dream about. Sociologists call it trust.
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