A Step by Step Guide to Branding for Hotels

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes | 1028 words

Oftentimes branding can seem somewhat daunting to those who haven’t studied design and although we do recommend working with a professional in order to create a custom and cohesive style for your business, we do believe that smaller businesses can benefit from following a few key steps in order to curate their own custom branding system.

This is a guide intended to aid smaller businesses who perhaps don’t have the resources in place just yet but who understand just how important branding is for their business.

What is branding?

Essentially, branding is any method by which you convey your business’ personality to the world. It encompasses the cohesive elements that form the visual narrative that you wish to share, including typography, colour schemes, logo, business name, imagery and language. All of these can be found on your social media, the text on your business website, the logo displayed within your hotel, the graphics on your menus and signage, and even the colours of your staff uniform.

Your branding should be representing your business at every touch point where your guests interact with your company and also behind the scenes as a reminder to your staff of the values you wish to instill. It is essential, therefore, that it is consistent in order to maintain the same image everywhere your business appears as that is how people will grow to recognise and trust your company.

Step 01 - develop your pitch

First things first, before we can dive into the exciting visual aspects, such as colour schemes and logos, it’s essential that you have your pitch worked out. Your pitch forms the basis of your brand creating a strong foundation from which we build. Essentially, a good pitch needs to answer the following questions:

  • What your brand offers
  • Who your brand serves
  • How your brand adds value differently to your competitors

Your pitch should be made up of 2 – 3 sentences that you can easily share with anyone you meet thus giving them a clear picture of exactly what your brand is, who they serve and why they’re so great.

The reason why establishing a solid pitch so early on is to make sure everyone can clearly see the benefits of your brand. After all, there’s nothing worse than asking someone at a dinner party what it is that they do, only to receive an answer so vague and confusing that you are none the wiser as to what they actually do.

It’s important that we build a picture in the mind’s eye of those that we share our pitch with, to give them a sample of how they might feel when they interact with our brands. After all, we are walking billboards for our businesses and only have one opportunity to position our brands well.

Here’s an example:

A poor pitch:

“We are a hotel for busy people needing a good rest”

A strong pitch:

“We reconnect weary travellers with nature to help them regain perspective and slow down.”

Step 02 - keywords

Now that you have your pitch sorted, it’s time to come up with three keywords that you want your audience to associate with your brand. These can be feelings, visual adjectives or morals (such as ‘ethical’).

Some examples below:

A Tuscan villa with a locavore menu aimed at Promadic Travellersfamily, warmth, wholesome

A modern Arctic spa providing cultural wellness stayswilderness, luxury, peace

A members-only Parisian cocktail barrefined, art deco, hidden

Step 03 - Colour Story

Next, it’s time for us to take your chosen keywords and connect them with a colour palette that resonates.

This ‘colour story’ is important in conveying how you wish your audience to feel when interacting with your brand, whether that be excited and adventurous or soothed and feminine.

We suggest using online tools such as Coolors.co to find 4 colour swatches that align with your chosen keywords.

Here are some examples below using our chosen keywords:

Keywords: family, warmth, wholesome

Keywords: wilderness, luxury, peace

Note that 'wilderness' colours will likely change based on your location, in this instance it was a cool, barren Arctic wilderness but a jungle lodge would likely feature at least one green and a brown.

Keywords: refined, art deco, hidden

Step 04 - Typography

Now that we are starting to build a clearer picture of the direction you wish your brand to take, it’s time to take a look at typography. There are numerous options online to help guide you, including font pairing tools.

Here are our favourites:

  • Google Fonts (free to use)
  • Typekit (if you have an Adobe CC subscription)
  • Canva also provides a good, and free, opportunity to play around with font pairings.
Simplicity is key here. Ensure that your chosen fonts are legible and work well together. Pick two fonts, one for the header and one for the main body of text.
 
Header font is used for titles and section headings.
Body font is used for paragraph text.
 
Use these two fonts exclusively throughout your branding, no exceptions. Using more than two fonts can make your branding appear inconsistent and muddled.
 
Here are some examples using our chosen keywords:

Keywords: family, warmth, wholesome

Keywords: wilderness, luxury, peace

Keywords: refined, art deco, hidden

Step 05 - Logo

With your choice of pitch, keywords, colour story and font pairing guiding you, it’s now time to experiment with logos.

We would highly recommend working alongside a professional when designing your logo but if this is not an option at this time then consider opting for a wordmark logo for the time being.

A wordmark logo would consist of your business name, written in perhaps your chosen header font. An example of this would be our Magpie Creative Co. logo and the Aesop logo.

We would suggest playing around with ideas in Photoshop (a free trial is available) or Canva. Experiment with letter spacing, slight adjustments of certain letters, monograms and graphic elements. However, it’s important to keep in mind that simplicity and legibility are important components of a successful logo.

Consider creating several versions of your final logo, including a full sized logo (primary), a secondary logo used for smaller graphics where your primary logo won’t fit without compromising on its aesthetic and a submark logo used as a favicon or for very small brand placements such as a profile picture.

If you require any help with this part of the process, do reach out here.

Conclusion

As you work your way through this process it becomes apparent that creating your business’ branding is just as much about the language used (pitch, keywords) as it is the visual colour story, typography, logo).

By taking the time to establish a strong pitch and compelling keywords at the beginning of the design process, you are setting yourself up for a more successful and well-rounded branding system. When complete, your branding guide should act as an ongoing reference from which you work when creating marketing collateral, writing articles, creating products, designing staff uniform and even the hotel rooms themselves.

Branding takes time, it’s a thought-provoking process and not one that should ever be rushed. To get the ball rolling, we would suggest creating a Pinterest board where you can gather your ideas and finalise a brand mood before working on your pitch.

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About Magpie Creative Co.

Magpie Creative Co. is a digital marketing and design consultancy with a worldwide client base. We provide branding, web design and online marketing for businesses that offer luxury guest experiences and require an efficient online booking system.

© 2020 Magpie Creative Co.

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