You’ve got a name, logo, business cards and a letterhead, but do you have a brand?
A brand in its simplest form is a noun, a thing. It’s not simply the name of your company, or a way for people to identify you against another; although it serves those purposes. A brand should make you feel something, make you aspire to be like them, identify with and trust them.
Brands have characteristics the same way people do; most, if not all major brands have brand strategy guides that are meant to be followed closely across all communications. Some hotel brands have mastered this. Consider the Ritz-Carlton, everyone knows they quite literally wrote the book on exceptional customer service. Or a smaller but still impressive brand, Rock Resorts, who are synonymous with mountain escapes.
Brands encapsulate everything from the layout of a banner ad, to the social media, to the way customer service representatives conduct themselves. Your biggest fans should literally be able to live out your brand — some major players, like Starwood’s W Hotels, have been doing just that for more than fifteen years.
Make sure your brand standards manual includes…
A well-targeted brand is ascribed a set of related characteristics in their brand manual. This can include corporate values, keywords, examples of tone of voice, sample phrases; also included is what not to do – examples that go against the brand. But where do we look when determining the character of a brand?
You could look at your ideal customer and simply assign some of their most positive attributes, but do I want to be ‘friends’ with a brand that’s exactly like me? I would argue no, people seek to be like the brands they choose, and don’t always look for something that matches their current aesthetic to a tee. They want something better, something to elevate their status and aspire to. Something like the highly curated and strong lifestyle leader, Design Hotels, perhaps.
For most companies, their highest ranking asset would be their employees. While this is indeed true for hotels, don’t forget your tribe: they are your biggest brand fans and your mega social influencers. Reward them, connect with them, and be inspired by them. Again, Design Hotels does an amazing job of this.
As for the future of bringing brands into life, luxury travelers are now seeking simplicity and the convergence of conveniences in one elevated experience. Find out just how exactly to curate that here.