Our series of articles sent over the past few months have sparked quite some interest and the one or other discussion. As promised, as this series continues, we will focus entirely on online marketing that will help your establishment to build your brand, increase direct bookings, and repeat and referral business. At the core of all marketing and advertising is your brand and in particular your brand essence. The following articles will therefore focus entirely on brand development:
What do you promise to customers, employees, the community, partners, vendors, media, and other key stakeholders?
Great hospitality branding is about making a promise and reflecting that promise at every customer touch point. The idea is that you don’t want to have a “business” – you want to have a “cause”. When you make such a brand promise and have a cause, you are more likely to enlist the passionate help of your key stakeholders to help your cause (which benefits your business). When you stand for something, you stand out. When you stand out, you are doing one of the most important things in marketing – showing you are different (in marketing you want to emphasize how you’re different, rather than how you’re better).
A brand promise must be bold, clear, and made publicly. Everyone you deal with should know what you stand for and what you won’t stand for. A brand promise can be confused with a mission statement; and while there are some similarities, the two are dramatically different.
In pursuing the answer to “what’s our brand promise”, ask yourself what would be your “cause”. Sure, it’s to accommodate people, be a good employer, but past all that, what’s your reason for being? What do you stand for? What are your non-negotiables? What do you defend or champion? What are your belief systems and governing codes? The answers to these questions will help you reveal the components of your brand promise.
A strong brand is built when the brand promise and operational/marketing execution are closely aligned. You have a bold promise, deliver on that promise consistently and without wavering, and as a result you build a brand. This notion is the cornerstone of hospitality branding; not fancy creative, nicely designed logos and corporate identity, and the like. Those can be tools to help communicate what the brand stands for, but the “brand promise” is the starting point of all marketing efforts.