Hotel Branding:
What We
Got Wrong

Two women shaking drink tumblers behind the bar and smiling.
Two women shaking drink tumblers behind the bar and smiling.

Hotel Branding: What We Got Wrong

How sending our EVP & Creative Director to work at a hotel for a week led to better more insightful work

We’ve been told often that it’s an Agency’s job to represent the customer. We’re hired because our clients are too close to the business, so our outsider perspective is valuable to make sure we create campaigns, brands, and experiences that connect. That’s true for SPARK, as I’m sure many others out there.

But when we start to believe too much in the value of our outside perspective and drink heavily from our own Kool-Aid, we only see half of the picture. So, here’s our confession: we became victim to our own confidence and got a lot of things wrong when it comes to hospitality branding.

When we brand a hotel, we expect the ideas that we concept to be executed exactly as we recommend. And when things don’t go according to our plan, we get frustrated. We can pretend like we don’t, but we constantly ask ourselves ‘why did this happen…again?’ Was it something someone said? Did passion for the idea run out? Or was it simply not working?

We got sick of wondering and decided to go right to the source. We put ourselves through an Agency Internship and worked inside The Epicurean Hotel for a week. What we walked away with gave us a generous dose of humility and insights that will forever transform the way we approach hospitality branding.

Mistake #1: Your Brand Is Physical

Mistake #2: Consistency Matters

Mistake #3: Clients Are Cheap, Ideas Get Cut

Mistake #4: Hard Work Is Everything

Mistake #5: Brain Is Trained

Agency Internship Takeaway:
Brand values are lived, not read in a book.

This week reinforced for us the importance of brand and operations working hand-in-hand from the beginning to create the right story for each hotel property. While in the past we may have underestimated the value in a comment from a GM, group sales manager or head of housekeeping, we’ll never make that mistake again. The insights and experience they bring can help us to create the transformative brand experiences that have incredible impact on a guest, operational staying power, and ultimately keep customers coming back again and again.

The biggest takeaway from this experience is one we think is relevant for all brand agencies, regardless of the industry you work in. When it comes to design, don’t just think about the way something looks. Take seriously the insights and experience of those who are responsible for delivering day-to-day or who have done it many times before. Because when you create something that works in the real world and delivers a meaningful experience that keeps people coming back for more, that truly is a beautiful thing.