Back To Basics: Why does a hotel need a brand positioning?
In this series of short blogs, the Mason Rose & Studio Black Tomato teams will share their expertise on different marketing channels and remind us of the importance of the fundamental principles of marketing.
In this first piece we look at the idea of brand positioning and why this is so important for the travel and tourism industry.
What is Brand Positioning?
Quite simply, it’s a process of research and reflection which should result in a clear positioning – an articulated set of beliefs and actions which set your brand apart from the competition.
Surely all brands have a positioning.
Yes, all choices a brand makes – from your logo, to your décor, to your staffing – will affect your brand and how it is perceived. The difference is whether there is consistency and strategy in this thinking or if they are all individual choices.
A brand with a strong positioning makes their choices from one single and defined purpose – think about a brand outside of our sector – like Apple. Their fonts, their language, their digital presence and their product lines – it all comes from the same place.
If you are unsure about your positioning try a simple exercise. .
Ask several different staff to explain your brand in one sentence.
- How different are the answers?
- How easy do they find this question?
If they are unable to answer easily, or the answers vary differently then it could be a good time to refresh your brand positioning. If in doubt ask the same questions of brands with clear positioning – often people can explain what Nike, Apple, Tesla etc stand for in a sentence because these brands have invested a great deal of time to be known for something.
This creates great brand recall and great brand loyalty.
Why is this important for Hotels?
Often brands can get to a point when they are too caught up with what the industry are doing and forget to focus on how the consumer sees things. This is perfectly understandable because it’s difficult for the people running the business to see things as outsiders.
This starts to show itself when brands become inconsistent
- Restaurants, gyms and other sub-brands look and sound different to the hotel
- Advertising that isn’t getting the attention of the audience
- Social channels that feel disconnected
- A tone of voice from staff that doesn’t connect to the tone of voice of marketing.
More often than not the biggest challenge is differentiation from the competition.
We notice that brands in travel and tourism can want to articulate what they do best as a brand and not necessarily what makes them unique.
Hotels love to say that their service is what sets them apart – but there are many many great hotels all with exceptional service. Perhaps your food and beverage is world class – but so are many of the best hotel brands. These are not the things that make you unique. This is why we spend a long time getting to the heart of your purpose and your personality so that we can find creative hooks that help the consumer understand why you are different. Often these are things that the brand has always had as stories – they just forget that they are compelling.
How do we approach this work?
Often this is the work of external consultants and something we at Studio Black Tomato do a lot of.
Our process tends to start with research (about your audience, your competitor set, your brand and your products). Interviewing staff and getting to you know your brand insight out.
Following that we have a workshop with the key stakeholders to explore brand territories and discuss your brand positioning.
After the workshop we begin the creative process – what does your brand look and sound like, how do you describe the brand, what is the creative and storytelling approach that you can uniquely own?
After that we pull together brand guidelines which can be used as a document to control the consistency of the brand and work with you to roll this out (everything from educating staff to creating advertising etc).
How do we go about commissioning this work?
Normally the process takes about a month to get to a great brand positioning but if this is something of interest do drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange an exploratory call.