There are many highly successful brands today and even more that are not so successful. What’s the difference? In short, it’s the type of commitment a company makes to branding. It’s more than a matter of defining a brand; it’s growing one — nurturing it and strengthening it throughout the company and among the customer base over time. It’s a commitment that is similar to parenting. As with parenting, your baby grows and matures, but unlike parenting, a brand never leaves home and becomes fully independent. It needs continual nurturing over the long term.
From the beginning of the branding process, it is important to understand the difference between positioning and branding. Positioning is an activity at a point in time, while branding is a process over time. And for companies with longevity that means a long time.
So, consider viewing the branding process as five steps: discover, establish, express, interpret and live.
The first step to be taken for any brand, whether it’s starting from birth or is an existing brand that is being reborn, is to engage in the positioning activity. In simple terms, this means discovering a proposition for lasting relationships between your hotel or resort and the people upon whom you depend for success. And, as most everyone knows, that proposition must differentiate your business in the marketplace. And while you’re busy crafting an articulate definition of an idea that is distinctive, it must also be relevant to guests and corporate accounts. If not, you’ve already failed.
While working hard to discover a relevant, distinctive positioning for your brand, you must also keep your attention on how you will steward the new brand over time. This means clarifying whether you have the people and systems in place to effectively monitor all aspects of the hotel or resort to assure that everything and everyone remains “on brand” and contributes to its growth and success.
Businesses in the hospitality industry are complex, and it’s an industry that never sleeps — running 24 hours a day, every day, forever. So, it’s easy to forget about the brand-stewardship commitment when addressing the flood of daily challenges. Try using the brand as a filter for viewing the business’s three primary components: operations, communications and internal culture. They are all tightly interconnected. So, when examining new initiatives each year, apply the brand filter to better express the brand in all that you do.
That universe of people upon which your hotel or resort depends for success is made up of various segments. And while they share some common mindset (or they wouldn’t all be relating to your brand idea), they will use your hotel or resort for different reasons. This means that to be truly successful you must interpret what the brand’s essence — its promise, whether stated or implied — means to them.
Finally, everyone involved in the hotel or resort must be able to relate to the brand as well. Frequently, companies do not make this final connection, which is so critical. It is the staff that personally provides the touch points with guests and clients, or they are responsible for maintaining the all-important touch points throughout the hotel or resort. So, there must be a clear interpretation of the brand provided to them, one that resonates on a personal level and inspires them to live the brand day-to-day.
Five steps that are not so easy, but are essential when building a truly successful brand. I look forward to your comments.