By Jennifer Nagy President, jlnpr | March 10, 2013
As consumers, we encounter hundreds of brands each and every day of our lives. Every car that we see driving down the street, every cup of to-go coffee, every pair of jeans, and of course, every TV advertisement that we see floods our brains with ideas and impressions about each company/product/service, based upon the visual aspects of the brand. This illustrates how important it is for companies to have a consistent, strategic brand: because it is often the first impression (and the most often seen representation of your property), it better be a good one. Your company's brand is what helps potential customers remember you, even though they are exposed to thousands of competing marketing messages every day. Ideally, a brand identity should be created upfront before launching to the public, but if your property has not yet figured it out, it isn't too late.
Before we get started, let's define a few key terms that can be confusing to the branding newbie:
- Brand: "Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind."
- Brand Image: "The impression in the consumers' mind of a brand's total personality (real and imaginary qualities and shortcomings). Brand image is developed over time through marketing/advertising campaigns with a consistent theme, and is authenticated through the consumers' direct experience."
- Corporate Identity: "Combination of color schemes, designs, words, etc., that a firm employs to make a visual statement about itself and to communicate its business philosophy." A company's corporate identity is comprised of various items including "buildings, decor, logo, name, slogan, stationery, uniforms, website, etc."
Step 1: Identify your property's key differentiators
The first element to identify when establishing your company's brand is the key differentiators between your company and the competition. For hotels, focus on the benefits that your property offers compared to other hotels in the same destination and same star rating.
Let's look at an example. Imagine you're a five-star property on Fisher Island in Miami Beach (a private island that can only be accessed by hotel guests or residents) and you're trying to figure out what makes your hotel different from the rest of the hotels in the area. In my mind, the biggest differentiator is that your property is exclusive, as it restricts access to the hotel to a select few "special" guests. As many hotel guests are looking for a unique, exclusive travel experience, it makes sense to use exclusivity as a key element of your brand.