Branding. There is some confusion around this term. Some see it as your logo design, font choice, and colors that represent your business. Others think of the company culture, or the way employees are trained to serve customers. Still others like to throw around the terms “storytelling” and “communication” to describe branding.
Branding is all of the above. But ultimately, it’s how you are perceived by your customers and guests. And you do have control over how you are seen, even if it doesn’t always come across how you want it to.
If you excel in customer service, you’ll be remembered for being friendly, attentive, and caring. If your property’s interiors are beautiful and elegant, you’ll be remembered as a classy, luxurious hotel.
But nothing about your branding happens by accident. You must plan and strategize to develop a brand image that’s aligned with your identity and business objectives. And then you must execute against it. Only then will you project an effective brand that captures your target customers in the way you want it to.
Here are some tips on how to develop your hotel brand.
Carve Out Your Identity
Who are you, and what makes you unique? Your hotel brand needs to be built around your identify, and without knowing who you are or what you’re trying to offer, there is simply no way to craft and market a distinctive brand.
Some hotels are known for being affordable and convenient. Others are known as luxurious, amenity-rich environments. There is no shame in admitting what you do and don’t offer. You are who you are, not who someone else is. You should emphasize what makes you exceptional and different instead of trying to become a copycat (although there are always things to be learned from other successes).
Discovering your identity may take time. But once you’ve made a decision about who you are, all of the branding starts to fall into place. As author, speaker, and consultant Simon Sinek says, when you start with “why”, the “how” and “what” more or less take care of themselves.
Develop Your Message
What do you want to say to the people you’re looking to appeal to? What message are you trying to put out into the world?
To maintain consistency across the various channels you will be communicating through (in-person, ads, website, blog, social media, email, etc.), you first need to know who your audience is, and what you want to say to them. When your message is clear, your prospects and customers will recognize what you’re about, no matter how they find out about you.
A key point here is that your branding must be simple and specific. Why? Because there are going to be a lot of people representing your brand, from your employees and guests to journalists and media people. If you can explain who you are in simple terms, so can others. And every time your name comes up in a conversation, people will associate certain values and standards with you. But if your message is convoluted and hard to relay, inevitably, it will be diluted and misrepresented.
Create Your Brand Elements
Now that you’ve defined who you are and how you’re going to communicate it, you’re ready to decide on your brand elements, such as your colors, font, logo, and other image assets.
Only now that you have a clear identity and message are you ready to start thinking about spreading the message visually.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the elements that will make up your visual brand:
- Color. Help Scout has a detailed article on the subject of the psychology of color in marketing and branding. They note that there is considerable personal bias when it comes to the psychology of colors, so even the most carefully chosen color combination may not always communicate the message you want it to. But it’s still worth studying. Yellow can convey optimism, clarity, and warmth. Red can communicate excitement, youth, and boldness. Orange, purple, blue, green, and other colors all tend to carry certain meanings.
- Font. There’s an infographic on Crazy Egg that explains the psychology of font choices. These and other resources on the topic of typography are worth a look. Serif fonts tend to represent tradition, respect, reliability, and comfort. Sans serif fonts project stability, objectivity, cleanness, and a modern feeling. Script fonts, modern fonts, and display fonts all carry specific meanings too. The post on Crazy Egg also offers an analysis of several popular fonts and logos.
- Images. Image choice also affects your branding. If you want to appeal to a younger audience, you may have trouble reaching them using images that convey relaxation, comfort, stillness, quietness, and so on. Youth want excitement, movement, bright colors, and the like. Again, this is a vast generalization. But you need to be thinking about how you’re using images when appealing to your target demographic.