The Simpsons Movie: Experience-Based Differentiation In Animation

I guess it says something about me that I went to see The Simpsons Movie while our kids were away at camp. So I can’t pretend that my kids pulled me into the theater for this one. But my wife and I were in the mood for some stupid humor. Well, the movie lived up to those expectations. I still can’t get the song “spider pig” (sang to the tune of Spiderman) out of my head.

So what does this have to do with customer experience or Experience-Based Differentiation?

The movie provided me with a great experience because it: 1) Established a clear set of expectations and 2) more than delivered on those expectations.

The movie didn’t try to do something that Simpsons fans (its target audience) would find off-base. If you are a fan of The Simpsons (which we have been since short clips of the Simpsons started appearing on the Tracey Ullman Show), then you’d probably enjoy the movie. The characters that we’ve come to know and love on the TV did their thing on the big screen. We got what we expected; and even a bit more like the nagging “spider pig” song in my head.

This is an excellent example of a key principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: “Reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications.” Here’s how I describe that principle:

Firms must articulate their brand attributes to both customers and employees, clearly describing how the firm wants to be viewed. That’s just the first step, because companies must go on to translate brand attributes into requirements for how they’ll interact with customers.  

The creators of The Simpsons Movie definitely live up to this principle — they understand their brand. 

The bottom line:  You need to have a clear understanding of your organization’s brand if you expect to have any chance of living up to it across multiple customer interactions. 

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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