Introduction to Branding in the Hospitality Industry

It's important to first clarify exactly what a brand is, how do we define it? A brand is a product, service, person, cause or organization with perceived intangible attributes, a product or service, which a customer perceives to have distinctive benefits beyond price and functional performance. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.

By providing the basics and introducing you to the concept, we aim to make this definition seem less like a mouthful and turn it into something very useful!

How are brands experienced?

Brands live in our heads; how we think and feel about a brand is the brand. A brand is not a name, trademark, logo or packaging, but rather a collection of thoughts and feelings about our experience with it. Thoughts and feelings are intangible, as compared to tangible, which you can see, hear, touch, taste or smell; intangibles you just feel. Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your services, and it differentiates your offering from your competition's offering. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.

How do brands get inside our heads?

Brands get inside our heads through exposure to messages about the brand as well as through actual experiences with the brand. Experiences are moments when a person comes in contact with the brand. Every single person in the organization contributes to shaping the experience with a brand. Likewise, every Rand spend and every decision made impacts on these experiences with the brand. For this reason, branding is not solely a marketing function, it is an organizational function. A brand will not be strong, an organization will not be able to deliver on its branding promise, unless the entire organization from top to bottom understands and embraces the brand.

What makes a strong brand?

Every strong brand stands for something; one single differentiating attribute: the brand essence. The brand essence is the one single intangible attribute that differentiates the brand from competitors.

Branding then is, defining, promising and delivering a unique brand experience consistently. Branding distinguishes the brand from its competitors and builds preference. Consistent, strategic branding leads to strong brand equity, which means the "added value" brought to your company's products or services which allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command.

Finding and defining your brand essence is like a journey of self discovery. Start by answering the flowing questions:

  • What is the mission of your company?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products/services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
  • So now you've defined your brand, but how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere!
  • Write down your brand messages. What are the key messages about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to how you answer your phones, what you wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature - everything!
  • Create a "voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and in the visual imagery on all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal.. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful, and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you - or refer you to someone else - if you don't deliver on your brand promise.
  • BE CONSISTENT! We place this last only because it involves all of the above and it is most probably the single most important tip we can give you.
  • We hope the above has been helpful in setting you on the road to defining your brand and simplified the concept to you.


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