SomeOne on Hotel Branding
SomeOneÃ‡Æ’Ã™s Simon Manchipp gets maximalist on the subject of hotel branding...
What better man to ask but Simon himself on what he thinks about brands, luxury and boutique hotels.
Simon is a founding Partner of SomeOne, a London-based design practice that launches, re-launches and protects brands.
Their portfolio of clients is somewhat astonishing in terms of variety. Ranging from the big boys, such as London and Eurostar, to the classy brands of the London Royal Opera House and the Town Hall Hotel in London. SomeOne is also currently working on the branding of a new boutique countryside manor hotel called Heckfield Place situated in Berkshire, UK opening in 2012.
How has the world of branding evolved in your opinion?
For me, it’s about the ‘death of minimalism’ Minimalism is usually talked about in glowing terms, but really it depends on what we’re talking about — some brands do require complexity.
A logo, which many believe to be the sole representation of a brand, can be used so repetitively, that in a way it feels like its talking down to you. Powerful brands don’t rely on just a badge. Using a ‘maximalist’ approach in essence is like to develop a brand world which joins up all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
A brand represents experiences. So for a hotel, there can be many that a guest could encounter — eating at the restaurant, arriving in the lobby area, sampling a treatment in the spa, sleeping in the room to name a few.
If a brand is flexible, or to put it in another way — adaptive, it has the ability to constantly change relative to the person who’s seeing it. So rather than a brand being seen as just a symbol, it’s more of a dialogue, an ongoing conversation, which is so much more powerful to the consumer.
The TownHall, a boutique hotel in London is a great example where its brand is used in an intelligent and adaptive way. I would say that — we did it — but it demonstrates how brands can now be intelligently adaptive rather than rubber stamping.
When it comes to hotels, what aspect of branding is most important
A well branded hotel is the product of so many details, which is why adopting a maximalist approach to branding is more effective.
Everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon of one ‘big idea’ but sometimes those conceptual, blue sky, not-that-useful ideas just create a restricting jacket rather than a set of exciting principles.
It’s widely trumpeted in Marketing circles that creativity comes in the form of ‘concept’ of one ‘Big Idea’, rather than a deeply considered, tangible, coherent and crafted feel.
That is not to say that conceptual thinking is dead. That Big Ideas are worthless. More that big ideas can be many and frequently occurring in the modern brand experience. We like to give organisations, products and services need more than one big idea.
We’re fond of saying that in matters of branding, a logo isn’t enough‚ that logos alone are increasing a little redundant. When we see yet another re-brand hanging purely off a logo we feel there has been a real missed opportunity.
Which are the best boutiques you’ve experienced?
The best hotels I’ve stayed in are when you feel you’re the only ones staying there. I was on my honeymoon at The Pearl Beach Resort in Bora Bora, and I felt exactly like that. I then realised that the hotel was fully booked-out! It’s never nice to feel like you’re one of many waiting in line.
I’m also a fan of Hotel Costes, Paris — they really have a strong sense of their ‘Brand’ and are hard to beat for hardcore Parisian snobbery, amazingly dark lighting and their brilliant CDs by Stephanie Pompougnac.
What’s your definition of luxury?
Luxury means many things to many people but for me, it all boils down to the ‘Three sigh’ test of relaxation. If I manage to sigh on three separate occasions, I can truly say to myself that I’m in a place of luxury. What I mean is that feeling when you look out on a stunning view and sigh deeply in awe of the sight. Or when you finally lay down on a Tempur bed and sigh in relaxation. Or when you finish an incredible bottle of Pomerol. Three sighs are quite tough to achieve‚ but it is possible!
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