When I think of creating value in a brand I always remember a blog in the Harvard Business Review in which Dan Pallotta declared, “Brand is everything, and everything is brand.” I agree because branding is about choosing to proactively care about every detail of your business.
Once an owner has defined an opportunity for development of a hospitality property, the brand is the foundation on which everything is to be built. It is the proposition for a lasting relationship with the people the business will depend on for success. Everything — whether tangible or intangible — must support this all-inclusive idea. Then the brand has the potential to fulfill its purpose, contributing value to the business.
The brand is the design of your hotel’s architecture, the look and feel of its public and private spaces, the products and programming that will be offered, how customer service is delivered, all culinary offerings, all spa treatments, retail choices, how the employees are dressed, how the phone is answered, the messages delivered in advertising, PR, social media and, of course, the logo and how the brand’s identity is presented. However, in terms of how the brand contributes to the success of your hotel, all of that is only the beginning.
Every brand is basically a promise, whether declared or implied. So, for the brand to add value it must live up to its promise in the minds of consumers, and it is this that will determine what the brand is actually worth. If customers don’t care about your property your brand is worth nothing. So, common sense tells us that in order for your brand to create value you have to understand what matters most to your guests. One of the best investments you can make is consumer research designed to gain these insights.
Your brand is also everything it suggests to your guests, from concepts and ideas to feelings and memories. In order for the brand to create value, these impressions in the minds of both past and potential guests must be more relevant to what they value and more intriguing and compelling than what is being presented by the alternatives they may consider. Their impression must be that the brand is different but, more importantly, meaningful.
It is important to realize that your guests see your marketing, sales, on-property offerings and service simply as different aspects of the brand. So everything they encounter or experience — website, ads, press coverage, YouTube videos, talking to a res agent, staying at your hotel — is part of their individual brand experience. Therefore, everything your brand does must be orchestrated to resonate with each guest so each experience with your brand has meaning.
The branding objective must be to inspire, inform, guide, enhance and reinforce the ideas that will resonate with potential and past guests in order to drive their predisposition to not only buy your brand, but also pay a premium for it. If so, this will create value for both the owner and the buyer of the brand.