Personalising the intangible and tangible

Phil Dean, Managing Director of Certain argues that branding has evolved to such an extent in hospitality that organisations must now put personalisation at the forefront.


If the brand has a persona, does this reflect the emotions of the leaders in the business? 

The consumer has never had more choice. They can choose to buy a product anywhere, at any time and the lowest price. And it’s in this world that branding has never been more important.

Recent statistics from the US show that Apple’s retail stores are the most successful on the high street, with seventeen times more sales per square feet than the average retailer. The data, which excludes online sales, reveals that Apple achieves more than double the amount of sales per square feet in the US than the runner-up, Tiffany & Co, who ranks second on the list.

It isn’t a coincidence that Apple also tops Forbes’ annual study of the most valuable brands in the world for the seventh straight year, worth $170 billion. Its brand value is up 10% over last year and represents 21% of the company’s recent market value of $806 billion.

It can be hard to relate to a behemoth like Apple, but the fundamentals remain the same — a good brand informs everything you do. And it’s not just your logo; I think it is far more useful to use the word reputation instead of brand. It will help connect with your customers and how they relate to your products and service.

It all starts with a simple question: what do people think of your brand? The answer to this will give you a point A on the journey and the point B will come from understanding what and how you want to sell.

The ultimate goal is to create a simple, potent brand idea that can be executed with confidence and creativity in everything you do, right across your business. Great brands  understand  their  customer  better than anyone else and solve a problem that they have and this is best achieved when a simple, compelling idea sits at the heart of the business — an idea that can be brought to life at every opportunity.

At its core, a brand is a promise to its customers. Not just tangible products and services, but emotions and feelings. And it’s customers that inform the strategy because brands are built by consumers, not companies and the way a brand is perceived defines it.

We encourage businesses to develop a brand persona. Think of your brand as a person and how does it interact its customers? The brand persona from appearance to personality is what customers will judge you on.

And remember, a brand is made up of intangible and tangible. It goes beyond just the logo, messaging, social media and advertising. The consistent communication of the brand will shape perceptions but if just one element is out the whole brand will suffer.

How do great brands behave?

Great brands are simple. They understand the consumer and how their brand is perceived and jumps at every chance to bring it to life at every touch point.

Based on the brand promise, expectations are set, and people assume expectations will be met. If your brand doesn’t meet expectations at every interaction, people will be confused or disappointed. This understanding should drive investment in training and systems to deliver impeccable service every time.

Branding in hospitality continues to evolve in line with the changing consumer experience and higher expectations across the board. Alignment of both the technological and physical experiences is critical and consumers take their lead from other sectors and expect high levels of service at every stage.

I believe personalisation will be a key driver of branding over the next five years. Online, customers expect a personalised experience based on their shopping habits. How can you bring an element of that into a hospitality space? Can you capture their data and send them something personalised? Can you take the idea of loyalty and make it personal to their experience?

Nowadays, digital is the main focus for many brands but don’t forget the important physical touch points of your brand – pay particular attention to your signage, windows, messaging and make sure it’s all aligned. It’s all part of the experience so don’t get carried away with social media and website and make sure everything works well together.

The businesses that thrive in a constantly evolving market will invest in brand and recognise they need a laser focus on their purpose.