A brand is like a person

A brand is like a person. Both are a bit complicated. For starters, each has a name, appearance, personality, values and beliefs. And there are benefits to having a relationship with either. When engaging in efforts to brand or rebrand a hotel or resort, the process is akin to birthing a human being. The result is something that has to be nurtured and cared for as it matures over time.

While there are many aspects of a brand, for now let’s view them in two primary categories: the brand itself and the brand’s identity.

Like a healthy person, a healthy brand has a sense of purpose and a set of beliefs and values. These are tied to the brand’s raison d’etre — a proposition for a lasting personal relationship between the resort or hotel and the people the business depends upon for success. If this idea is informed by insights into the customer and tied to common beliefs and values shared by the property and the customer, both parties will benefit from the relationship. The brand will be opening a door for the resort or hotel to have a positive effect on the life of the customer while serving the needs of the company. Sounds rather like a friendship, doesn’t it?

Typically, marketers focus their attention on the brand identity. This is a collection of various dimensions of the brand. Like a person, it includes its name, how it looks and how it speaks. But it also includes other attributes such as its sense of style and personality. For a brand to be truly successful, its identity must be informed by the essence of the brand.

So, first articulate the brand, and then craft its identity, which includes the obvious — logo, color palette and typography — but also a visual and verbal vocabulary. The brand platform and brand-identity guidelines provide a consistent focus for all decisions ranging from operational programming to website design, collateral, on-hold messages and how guests are greeted.

Here is an example of how a resort defined its brand and then crafted an identity that captured its essence and was designed to engage guests on a very personal level.

A historic luxury resort located in a charming village in a pastoral valley repositioned its brand based on research of its preferred target audience. The revelation? Guests were drawn to the property for more than relaxation; they felt nurtured and inspired. This led to the idea that life can keep getting better — a personal belief held by the customer and also valued by the resort. With this as a foundation, the brand identity was crafted as a mixture of classic elements taken from the resort’s historic Spanish colonial revival architecture and contemporary design. Here is how it was rendered:

  • The logo was updated to reflect a current take on Spanish tiles.
  • A fresh color palette was defined featuring a different color for materials supporting each of the five revenue centers.
  • Typography blended classic and simple, modern type forms.
  • Copy was written in a voice with a sophisticated casual flair.
  • A new library of timeless photography captured the gracious, joyful tone of the resort experience.

The result? The resort enjoyed dramatic growth as the property was reborn with a whole look and new personality.

So think of your brand as a person, focusing on 1) the brand itself and 2) the brand’s identity. I welcome your comments and questions.