In a digitally conscious world, the word ‘brand’ has become an established term with every sector and industry. Brand and branding have been an over consuming buzz word in recent times. Studies have shown that millennial’s and Gen Z are more influenced by the “why” of a brand than by the “what” of a brand. This means that they are more concerned with the purpose of a brand than just its products or services. To establish the brand purpose and its position in the market it needs to communicate with the target audience with utmost clarity.
With an immensely competitive and price sensitive marketplace of the hospitality industry, differentiation is a key factor influencing buying decisions. Branding can help build your credibility in the hospitality industry, which can give your customers a reason to choose you over your rivals.
In this blog post we are going to be exploring the concept of branding and brand strategy for hospitality stakeholders and the ways to create an impactful brand strategy for such service centric businesses.
What is brand strategy ?
A brand is basically the response of the customer about it rather than the way the brand projects it to be. So, it’s the gut feeling of the customer whenever they see the brand. Thus branding is much more than logos, typefaces or signatures, it is a deep rooted emotion with their customers. To accomplish the objective of positioning the brand to a certain pedestal there needs to be a plan or strategy.
A brand strategy for an organisation is a long term plan to achieve a wider and defined vision. The plan should be simple and well chartered so that it can be executed in phases with every customer journey.
Strategy helps you navigate through the activations, design implementation and brand communication. Especially for those hospitality brands that are continually trying to create a memorable experience for their customers. For hotels it is imperative for them to translate themselves to the customers about what they are, a budget hotel, a business hotel, family holiday oriented or a sophisticated luxury stay. This helps them filter their audiences and also helps the customer buying decision.
Why is brand strategy important ?
Most people in today’s busy world just don’t have the time or interest to focus on your brand. The responsibility lies with you to ensure that your brand’s presence is felt and that they understand your brand in a clear and concise way. To achieve this, every touch point needs to be aligned with a larger framework of the brand. Creating a strategy to reach the audience is important through a variety of channels.
With travel avenues opening up and tourism bolstering back, hospitality businesses are back at the race to outshine each other in an already fierce market.
The more impactful your brand and strategy, the more likely to persuade your people to remain with you, and choose to come back. Turning prospects into visitors and visitors into brand advocates is key to hospitality brands, and it is difficult to do that without brand strategy.
With strategy, brand behaviour remains consistent with its identity throughout digital and physical channels. For example, restaurant brands like Starbucks are being humane through their social media accounts and connecting in a relatable manner to their audiences.
What is brand strategy consulting?
Brand needs to be established in people’s memory without having to say it. Most successful brands create emotional and social connections far greater than their products or services. For example, Starbucks is one of the many coffee brands in the markets but the emotional and social dimension of it is far higher than any of the competitors around the globe.
Brands need to stay relevant to their customers and need to reflect their needs with a long term goal in sight. Brand Consultants help you achieve that by drafting a far sighted goal with intermediate tasks. Brand strategy consultants understand both the brand, its natural allies, competition and its ideal customers. Consultants are updated with the trends, upcoming market insights and future forecasts which can considerably improve brand performance and business growth over time.
The challenge for hospitality businesses is that they need to build a brand that helps to reduce the gap that exists between the business and the customer. The more effectively you can bridge this gap the easier it is to build new relationships with your customers.
A brand consultant will help you to understand your brand and its ability to help bridge the gap that we mentioned above. Hospitality businesses need to be able to define and communicate their brand consistently across all customer touch points. A brand consultant will help to explore the journey a new customer must go through when interacting with your brand. They then help you to review how well you’re communicating your brand and find opportunities to help tell a better story, one that aligns with your wider brand vision.
How to develop a brand strategy?
Brands develop a strategy to reach their target audience in the most effective way. Brand expert Marty Neumeier’s states that if your brand is a duck then it should behave like a duck so that the customers understand you are a duck and expect services accordingly.
Hospitality brands have a number of touch points to communicate their brand to their customers. These can be physical services like interior spaces or via digital media channels.
Every brand strategy should start with understanding the product or services offered and what target audience it is catering to. This will open up a lot of conversations towards a defined brand strategy. People connect to stories more than facts and statistics; Brand storytelling is an effective way to engage your customers into the history, purpose and values of the brand and why you should choose them over other competitors.
The brand story needs to be weaved in the integral fabric of the brand from design to communication. In the world of brand strategy, every point of the customer journey matters to create a holistic brand experience.
Hospitality Brand Strategy Examples
Let’s look at a few examples from luxury coffee shops to restaurants and show you how these brands have shaped a strong brand strategy.
An Indian cuisine restaurant, located in London with a range of delicacies inspired from various parts of India. The physical appearance of the restaurant transports you to the royal palatial living rooms and the art from local artisans guides you to the rich cultural ethos.
The walls are cladded with traditional antique timber doors inspired from the local Rajasthani haveli culture, reminiscent of the glorious past and vibrant puppets hanging from the ceiling to beautifully camouflaged open duct systems.
The brand strategy is to get the customer as close to the Indian traditional food and service as possible by using spices and ingredients sourced from India. From the table to the plates and cutlery everything reminds of how India eats on a dining table. Every touch point speaks a lot about its origin, story, art and culture of the land. The furniture is made of timber and cushioned with various textured fabrics flowing with colours. Thus, illuminating your senses to a land far away.
Rosslyn coffee is one of the best independent coffee shops in London who stands out in the already crowded marketplace. Rosslyn does a lot more than simply serving coffee. The minimalist and simple approach to care about their customers and going beyond is reflected in their spatial experience. With brand collaborations with local artists and other activations. Rosslyn understands their audience. It offers a wide range of extraordinary coffee collected from various travel expeditions and thus brings a story for every bag of exquisite coffee which is available for sale.
The idea for Rosslyn is to create a niche community of like minded people to gather and celebrate the great coffee culture of Britain. This place is voted ‘the best independent coffee shop in the world’ and has a potential to grow more in a country which consumes around 98 million cups per day.
Cafe Feya, located in one of the most expensive real estate properties in London, strives to position itself as a delight for the eyes with not only its interior design but also the offerings which are curated delicately by the head chef. Feya is highly appreciated on digital platforms for its glamour and positioning with a lot of collaborations of social media influencers.
The decor is sophisticated and chic at the same time, making it a luxury cafe creating a niche marketplace for itself.
Feya’s outlook towards charity and giving back to the world has also garnered some attention for the right reasons. Feya comes across as a cosmopolitan and soft layered cafe which can be a casual date or a luxurious space to meet and enjoy coffee with friends.
Sheraton by Marriott
Sheraton (Marriott) is the company’s most geologically assorted brand and the third-largest measured in both rooms and expenses around the world. Sheraton is positioned as the subtle luxury of Marriott, where it serves the upper middle and the business class. Sheraton Park Lane, London, a Victorian structure, from an elegant entrance to city skyline room views it has a touch of luxury with an affordable price point. The strategy for Sheraton is to give their guests the best of both worlds from business travel to leisure and splendour.
Dirty Bones launched in 2014 and now has 4 restaurant sites in London and 1 other in Oxford. From the offset they developed a strong brand strategy which has resulted in a very unique and distinctive brand and restaurant concept.
Vibrant interiors, stylish atmosphere, great food and carefully curated old school playlists create such a distinct and exciting experience. As a business they really understand that their brand strategy really defines everything they do. This is why everything feels so connected across all of their channels.
More recently they have opened up an old school speakeasy bar concept called Roxanne. If you want to know more about this brand (which we’ve absolutely fallen in love with) then click here.
The most successful hospitality concepts all have one thing in common. They have a clear brand strategy and they ensure the whole customer experience is aligned with the wider business strategy and vision.
In the past most people would associate the idea of having a brand strategy with much larger businesses but that simply isn’t the case any more. We find that whilst most businesses are busy ‘marketing’ the business they spend very little time to clearly understand the impact developing a brand strategy can have on their business. Amongst teams it is not uncommon for there to be a differing views and opinions about what the brand stands for and this has to be addressed. In order to build a cohesive brand then everyone within the business must be aligned on what the brand stands for now and in the future.
If you found this hospitality brand strategy post interesting then you may want to have a look through some of our other insights:
What is brand strategy and connected brand experience?
Build A Brand Strategy – Free Brand Strategy Template
5 things to consider when designing a Restaurant
Restaurant Brand and Interior design
Brand Communication & Brand Communication Strategy – Can it really impact business growth?
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