At HAM we often undertake creative and strategic tasks, such as concept creation for hospitality units, (re)branding, (re)positioning, strategic consulting and other turnaround services. We are passionate about this creative line of work because working together with our clients, we can make a huge difference as independent advisors experienced both in hospitality and project management.
Usually we are not able to showcase such projects in detail due to confidentiality restrains, but as we recently finished our own rebranding project we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show the passionate work that goes into such a project. The client also agreed.
When creating brands, it is important to fully understand what constitutes the brand. Focusing only on the tangible elements, such as a logo is a common mistake. By doing this, one fails to address the company (or hotel, restaurant etc.) itself and what it means to customers. Our understanding is, that a brand has to have integrity on all levels, from the first-glance aspects such as the logo, all the way to the depths of company philosophy. With this framework in mind we organised our objectives in three key areas.
1. The philosophical aspect
Arguably the most important step in the process (though often neglected) is creating a company philosophy which includes the common mission, vision and objectives. Getting this step right brings all stakeholders under one roof and creates an understanding of what the company sets out to achieve. It is not enough to create a great brand identity without having all employees on board for the long run.
Even though at HAM we already had a company philosophy in place, a thorough review was in order. Companies have to adapt to changing needs and anticipate future trends. The first step in the process is the review of existing data and research regarding the company. Once the data is analysed, SWOTs are made and competition is researched, we turn inward and look for input internally. Our method of creating this solid philosophical ground on which we would build the new brand is to bring employees, partners, owners and other stakeholders together and exchange past and current experience regarding the company in a series of workshops. Throughout these workshops we combine empirical data and statistics with lively ideas, interpretations and visions for the future.
Once completed, all parties involved have a thorough and shared understanding of the common goals full and motivation going forward. The importance of this step in both rebranding and other strategic projects cannot be stressed enough. Our experience in working with hotels showed that without a common vision, even the otherwise well-performing businesses have difficulties bringing everybody under one roof and achieving long-term objectives.
2. The visual aspect
By this time everybody with a creative mind would be giddy to start with the brand identity. So were we.
For specialist roles (graphic design in this case) finding the right external partner can make all the difference in the project. As a business owner, or CEO letting go of some of the control and listening to independent advisors can be challenging. This is precisely why the relationship between the involved parties has to be a constant conversation, an exchange of ideas back-and-forth. You would be surprised how much each side can inspire the other.
Our preference during our rebranding project was to work with someone creative who are open with their plans and are willing to engage in this dialogue instead of creating a one-sided final product. After tendering the contestants, we were lucky to find a very talented young graphic designer who shared our vision and was willing to work the way we do – openly with their clients at every stage.
We shared the conclusions of our internal meetings including our philosophy and goals. A sea of sketches followed, modifications, brainstorming sessions after which we arrived at what was to be our logo, something that carries more meaning than just a logo, the visual symbol of HAM. The complete brand identity, colours, fonts etc. were quick to materialise while maintaining the constant two-sided feedback sessions and the project was ready to move to the next stage.
3. The technological aspect
Online presence, digital customer journey and click-through rate all sound like buzzword material but they are to be taken seriously. The third step in the rebranding project was to transmit all this content via a selection of consumable and interesting platforms.
We set out to reform our website. As our field of expertise and the number of offered services broadened we needed to be able to showcase the sometimes very distant worlds we are able to connect for our clients. We are talking hospitality, real estate, investment etc. through a number of service categories that are rarely available under one roof. This is a massive amount of information, so we needed a platform that provides a balance between being informative and providing a thorough overview for casual visitors.
During the website design we also had regular feedback sessions to keep the dialogue going and make sure that we improve with each back-and-forth. Bringing in experts whenever necessary meant that we were able to combine creativity with high-level competence.
Following these three main steps, HAM as a brand was reborn and had a story to tell. The brand identity now flows from the surface all the way down to the core. Our six elements in the logo reflect how we combine the worlds that make up hospitality and tourism and symbolise why HAM is your go-to advisory partner in the industry.
With HAM we have been active in these types of projects, rebranding and reorganising, restructuring and turnaround for hotels, restaurants and various other hospitality assets. When we combine this experience with our internal project there are a few key takeaways we would advise our clients to pay attention to as they will define the success of their efforts.
1. Working methodically can make all the difference in the world. Don’t just start. Start by sitting down with your employees, owners, advisors and other stakeholders and define objectives. Define what makes you company what it is. Define where you are and where you want to be. It will help your project move forward much more easily and will save you a lot of headache in the future.
2. Don’t be afraid of turning to external advisors. It might feel like letting go of control, but if you choose your advisors and partners well you will be working together towards a common goal and through mutual inspiration you might arrive at an end-product that is more than the sum of its parts.
At HAM we uphold the same values when working with our clients and turn advisory into partnership.