Design Communications

Disney Handbook: Living the Brand 1940’s

This employee handbook issued by Disney Studios in 1943 stands out in stark contrast to the sternly written handbooks given to new hires by companies today. Yes, it was for Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. And, yes, times were more innocent back then (notice the male worker ogling the female). But the Disney handbook managed to cover everything from workplace dress code, safety, sick leave (10 days a year for women; five days for men), pay day, personal mail and terminations in a friendly, good-natured tone. It communicated a sense of the corporate culture and brand personality and a spirit of camaraderie.

Companies today often argue that they need to spell out personnel rules and policies in no-nonsense legalese because people are more litigious than ever. That may be true, but typically an employee handbook is one of the first documents a new hire receives. It would be nice if it was designed to be more welcoming and more reflective of the qualities of the brand, instead of getting right down to brass tacks and talking about criminal background checks, firearms and drugs at work, and whistle-blower protection.

Read More »