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 incorporating proper branding head-on. From uncoordinated operational efforts to significant revenue loss, to off-target market positioning, hotels and resorts should not take the task of branding – or the risks of making a branding misstep - lightly. Here are four things you can do to begin implementing the proper brand strategy for your business:
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 developed properly, brands not only provide an identity for an organization- they also offer perpetual and propelling content that more clearly clarify your brand’s image. Here are 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. Conceptualize concepts for future product development and growth
4. Establish key messaging points and a tone of voice
It's your task to define all the areas that your brand will influence, but also to develop a culture where brand experiences are executed consistently by your entire team. To do this, try answering these three questions:
Who Are You?
What Do You Do?
Why Does It Matter?
While the first two questions may appear relatively easy to answer, when you combine them with the final question, it becomes a more complex exercise that can reveal some interesting insights. Although it may take some time and effort to get it right, set aside specific time with your team to work on this.
2. Define Who You Aren’t
Knowing who you aren’t is as important as knowing who you are. As you structure new initiatives, develop new outlets and conduct employee training, you will be that much more efficient in your efforts.
To start, review all of 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 that much faster.
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 brand standards, your company will be able to effectively communicate across different sectors that apply to your efforts in operations, marketing, design and employee engagement.
To accomplish this, define exactly 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 provide your team with a clearer understanding of the role they play 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 carry-out better customer service.
4. Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork
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 are 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 Instagram, a blog post or marketing collateral, be sure your messaging is cohesive and delivered in a consistent manner. This will essentially transcend into your internal communication.
Branding is a crucial step to establishing a meaningful, differentiated presence. This will elevate your company’s ability to attract and retain loyal customers, as well as enhance your long-term value.
The question isn’t “will you develop a brand?” The real question is, “will you define the final brand, or will the final brand define you?”