Create a unique hospitality brand voice and make it loud

To teach students the fundamentals of building brand awareness and brand strategy in today’s cluttered, complicated advertising spaces, Glion Institute of Higher Education welcomed guest speaker Henrik Edelbring, Art Director at Wieden+ Kenney (W+K). Founded in 1982, W+K is one of the largest independent ad agencies with branches in Portland, New York, Amsterdam, Tokyo, London, Delhi, Shanghai & Sao Paulo. Their client list includes some of the most recognized brands in the world, including Nike, Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Samsung.

In his lecture about advertising, Mr. Edelbring discussed idea generation and Integrated Marketing Campaigns and shared case studies. In a short follow-up interview, he offered useful suggestions for some simple steps to follow to create a unique brand voice and capitalize on technology trends.

Finding the unique brand voice

Obviously, the first challenge is to make a brand’s voice stand out from the crowd and in hospitality this can be very tricky in saturated markets. Many hotels are trying to brand themselves as luxury establishments, but what does the voice of a luxury hotel sound like? Mr. Edelbring suggested these steps for finding a brand’s unique voice:

  1. Ask the right questions

Every good marketing campaing starts with a good brief, and a good brief  means asking all the right questions:

“Listen closely to the client to understand who they are. Ask questions to find out the brands heritage. Where do they come from? What’s their vision? What are their values? What do they want to achieve? Where do they see themselves to be in 5 years etc.? Do they have an interesting story that you can use to create the new brand?”

  1. Develop a speaking voice

Market research often asks some of these silly questions: if the product were a car/animal/celebrity etc. what would it be, do or say? The same creative thinking needs to apply to brand communications. Based on the answers to the questions in the brief, it’s important to create a persona, you “try to develop a way of speaking for the brand. It might help to think of the brand as a person, what the personality would be like and how would he or she express him/herself,” said Mr. Edelbring.

  1. Write a brand manifesto

Once you’ve established some clear idea of the brands USPs and tone of voice, it’s time to put those elements into writing and into pictures. “Come up with a key visual or a mood board that shows how the brands communication should look visually. Maybe you need to redesign the brands visual identity to fit with the new brand voice you have developed. Use these assets as a foundation when you start developing the brand communications,” suggests Mr. Edelbring.

  1. Maximise new technology and new platforms 

Once the brand identity and voice is sorted out, it’s time to get to the drawing board and get the new ads and content to market. Mr. Edelbring gave two valuable pieces of advice for marketing and advertisement professionals who want to get that brand voice heard over the multitudes.

“As advertising creative you have to stay up to date on trends. Brands like to appear modern and innovative by delivering their communications using new tech. Virtual Reality is growing fast. Production partners are forced to have the capacity to deliver VR content.

virtual realityIn 2016, Virtual Reality is going to reach the hands (and eyes) of consumers. As storytellers we are now expected to consider 360 environments when coming up with ideas.

New platforms like Snapchat, Twitch and Periscope are growing fast. If you want to be on top of your game you need to understand the nature of the platforms and how these users interact. To get this knowledge you need to be there yourself as an active user,” he said.

So in the end, breaking through all the background noise in hospitality and tourism advertising is not about the volume, it’s about creating a loud brand voice that reaches users with a quality of brand experience and then immerses users and spreads among them.

We address a special note of thanks to our guest, Mr. Henrik Edelbring, Art Director at Wieden+ Kennedy for taking a moment to answer our questions and also a thank you to Anu Laukka, our lecturer and professor at Glion Institute of Higher Education who keeps inviting the most inspiring guest speakers for her marketing courses.

For more information about the Glion program for which this guest lecture was organized, please visit the Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management.

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