Influence how guests FEEL about your hotel.
Let’s think about branding for a minute. What is it exactly? In the simplest terms, it is how people feel about your product or company. While a lot of that is out of your control, there are ways you can influence the emotional connection guests and potential guests have when they think about your hotels. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a consistent visual design plan to represent your company. Here’s how in three easy steps.
Step one—Develop and follow brand guidelines
Think about your company or brand’s mission. What are your core values? What is your vision for your future? How are you different from other hotels? The answers to these questions will serve as the basis for your development of brand guidelines.
Brand guidelines are important for a lot of reasons. To start, they are the starting point for how the rest of the world will see and understand your company. Think of them as the ultimate resource for what your brand looks, feels and sounds like. A consistent brand look and voice creates trust between you and your customer. You stick to your brand’s design, and they know what to expect, which allows them to feel connected to your brand.
At its very basic, your brand guidelines should include rules for the look and design of your logo lockups, logo safe space and usage, your color palette and your brand’s typography. They also should encompass your hotel’s mission, vision, target audience, brand personality and core values, so feel free to spend some time thinking deeply about those areas before you make any hard and fast decisions.
Step two—Let your guidelines guide you
Once you have established ground rules for your hotels’ key components (mission, vision, target audience, brand personality and core values) via your brand guidelines, then it is time to use them. Every item you create, every piece of content you post, every image you promote needs to adhere to the look, feel and tone of your guidelines. Probably one of the most iconic brands today is Apple. They have achieved near perfection with the look and feel of not only their products, but also their advertising and stores. If you were teleported into an Apple store, you would know immediately where you were without seeing a single logo thanks to the bright white displays and open work spaces.
Achieving that kind of visual recognition for your hotel brand is the goal. Even if you are differentiating properties for the location, there needs to be some cohesive thread that holds them all together and allows guests to associate your brand with their travel needs.
Step three—Put guests first
If you did a thorough job of thinking through your brand guidelines, you should have spent some time considering your target audience. Determining your ideal guest type, i.e. who you want to attract, will have a lot to do with what branding design you pursue. Research and study up on what this demographic wants in a hotel. Are they traveling for business? Are young children traveling with them? Do they want unique amenities or is value their biggest concern? The more you drill down and learn about what drives them, the more authentically you can craft a design message that will speak to them.
Guests can quickly sniff out when something is not honest or real. You will do your brand a great disservice if you promise things you can’t deliver or try and pull one over on your guests. Honesty, truly, is the best policy when you are representing your hotel brand. Best of all, if your customers are happy and feel connected to your brand, they will often share that appreciation with their friends and families, becoming a word of mouth brand ambassador that promotes your brand without you lifting a finger.