Blow by Blow

Blow by Blow

Mark Natale
Mark Natale

How To Build A Great Hospitality Brand

Risk – a subjective term with multiple meanings for many, but when it comes to your brand, it’s paramount to tackle the risks of not including proper branding head-on. Hotels and resorts should not take the task of branding lightly, as there are many risks associated with making a branding misstep, from uncoordinated operational efforts to significant revenue loss to off-target market positioning. Here are four things you can do to begin implementing the proper brand strategy for your business:

Step 1. Define Who You Are and Why It Matters

Occasionally, hoteliers, developers, and other business leaders miss the opportunity to thoroughly develop their brands into power stations of influence. When designed properly, brands not only provide an identity for an organization but also offer perpetual and propelling content that clarifies your brand's image more clearly. Here are the beginning steps you can take to define your brand:

  1. Outline competitive points of differentiation against your competitors
  2. Develop brand guidelines and insights for human resources and company culture
  3. Create concepts for future product development, growth, and new types of marketing collateral
  4. Establish critical messaging points and a tone of voice when speaking to your targeted audience on your landing page

It's your task to define all the areas that your brand will influence and develop a culture where brand experiences are executed consistently by your entire team. To do this, try answering these three questions:

  1. Who Are You?
  2. What Do You Do?
  3. Why Does It Matter?

While the first two questions may appear relatively easy to answer, combining them with the final question becomes a complex exercise that can reveal some interesting insights within the media marketing world. Although it may take some time and effort to get it right, set aside specific time with your team to work on this.

Step 2. Define Who You Aren’t

Knowing who you aren’t is as important as knowing who you are. As you structure new initiatives for content marketing, develop new outlets and conduct employee training, your efforts will be much more efficient.

To start, review your current efforts and compare them to where your brand is now, as well as your goal. Are they correct? Do they accurately tell your story? Do they properly differentiate you from your competitors? Knowing who you aren't will allow you to outline your parameters and weed through the maze much faster.

Step 3. Set Standards

The importance of solidifying your brand standards cannot be overstated. This applies to so much more than just your brand image. By developing a brand standards guide, your company will be able to effectively communicate across different sectors that apply to your efforts in operations, social media platforms, marketing, design, and employee engagement.

To accomplish this, define precisely what your brand stands for, how it will be represented, how your staff will represent it accurately, and what type of employee works best within your system. These standards will give your team a clearer understanding of their role in delivering the brand experience and how to recognize when things are "on-brand" or "off-brand." As a result, your staff will be more informed and empowered to deliver better customer service. Hotel brands such as the Ritz Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental are prime examples on how to set your standards and carry-them out successfully.

Step 4. Build Your Team

Building and maintaining great brands is a team endeavor, particularly in the hospitality industry. As more and more industries turn to online and virtual experiences, creating isolated customer experiences is becoming a thing of the past. In the hospitality industry, companies have the opportunity to create living, breathing experiences that immerse the customer into their brand narrative. Whether you document your company’s journey through social media, a blog post, or marketing collateral, be sure your messaging is cohesive and delivered consistently. This will essentially transcend into your internal communications and brand development strategies.

Branding is a crucial step to establishing a meaningful, unique presence. This will elevate your company’s ability to attract and retain loyal customers and enhance your long-term value.

The question isn't, “will you develop a luxury hospitality brand?” The real question is, “will you define the final brand, or will the final brand define you?

The proper focus from the outset of a project means the difference between getting it right vs. getting it done. Most can get it done, but is that what you set out to do?
Mark Natale
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