Re-Expression & the Power of Words

SuperCaliFragiListicExpiAliDocious. “Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious,” the power of this extraordinary word –and words in general– cannot be underestimated.

When you are trying to solve for something, simply re-expressing your challenge with a new choice of word, or words can get you to a very different place.

What’s in a Word? – Walt Disney was the master of Re-Expression. Unknown to many, Disneyland was built in just 364 days, opening to the public on July 17, 1955. With about a month to go, the landscaping team came to Walt and told him that with the resources and time remaining until opening day, there was no way they could have the park fully landscaped.

Walt went for a walk with the leading landscape artist. As they walked the park together, Walt noted there were lots of weeds in beds that had been prepared for flowers and topiaries. He asked the Landscape Artist to research the Latin name of each weed, write the names on tags and tie them to the weeds so that guests would think they were exotic varieties of plants. And so, it was on opening day 1955, that Disneyland opened to the public resplendent with the most exotic gardens you can imagine. 🙂

What’s in a Name? – Even before the opening of the park, Walt had already begun to use Re-Expression as a way to empower his employees, provide new dimensions to their roles and generate pride in their craft. Disneyland didn’t have any gardeners working on the project. They had only Landscape Artists! But his masterstroke in Re-Expression was yet to come.

With a simple choice of words, Walt created a culture that remains the single most outstanding example of guest service the world has ever known. Disneyland would not have customers. Rather, it would play host to Guests. Nor would Disneyland have employees, only Cast Members, each one cast for a role in the Grand Show. They would work onstage or backstage and they would wear Costumes, not Uniforms. And they would work in a rather wonderful place called Disneyland.

What’s in a Title? – A few months ago, I was visiting an agency in New York and while waiting for my meeting, I found myself chatting with a most delightful young lady at the reception. Upon being introduced to my client upstairs, I couldn’t help but remark just how wonderful their receptionist was, only to be informed that they didn’t actually have a receptionist. So, who, on earth, had I been talking to for 15 minutes? I told my client that I thought her name was Sarah to which he replied, “Oh yes, Sarah, she’s our Director of First Impressions!”

With that one Re-Expression of a job title, the young lady felt completely empowered to own the entry space, which she did with great aplomb!

Photo credit: Unsplash | Hugo Jehanne
2018-05-23T12:56:12+00:0023 May, 2018|Consumer Experience, Creativity, Re-Expression, Think Different|