Read about the basics of building a luxury hotel brand identity through the examples of the giants of the hospitality industry.
Luxury hospitality and top hotels do much more than offer accommodation services. Oftentimes, hotel groups and luxury travel amenities sell experiences, exquisite cuisine, wellness and relaxation, and much much more. Hotel brands and their stories need to be reflected accordingly in their branding asset and marketing strategies.
If you are currently working on building and maintaining your own brand image for your new hotel, take a look at this curated list of hotel chains with amazing branding. Be it the logo, print marketing assets, websites, or marketing strategies, every small detail can be something that sets them apart.
1. Marriott International: from logo to social media
Marriott International is undoubtedly one of the most successful hotel groups and also the umbrella corporation that owns most of the best luxury hotels in the world (Conrad Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, etc.).
As such, they have impeccable marketing strategies and branding. As a way to keep their brand image contemporary and ever-relevant, they had a rebranding and new logo design in 2014.
But apart from impeccable branding, interior design and consistently keeping its image throughout the years, Marriott has a foolproof marketing strategy. They mostly post user-generated content on social media in an attempt to reach millennials and younger audiences. They even partnered with Snapchat influencers to make “Snapisodes” that mimic TV travel documentaries.
And to tend to their customers in their best possible way, Marriott even created an app that helps visitors and potential customers easily find a booking and pay directly. Why bother searching on Booking if you can skip a few steps?
2. Six Senses: the promise of adventure
Upon landing on the Six Senses website, you immediately are intrigued by the video montage in which their visitors are seen having an adventure, learning about a new culture, or having a very relaxing time. As the name itself suggests, it is a hotel experience that will open a sixth sense for you.
The brand name and logo are simple and minimalistic, and the brand story is immediately recognizable: Six Senses sells travel experiences that give you a sense of adventure, wellness and a getaway from the urban chaos.
They are also committed to sustainable design, as a part of their social responsibility strategy. They work on making the planet a better place for living, by growing organic produce and learning how to close the loop on waste through replanting coral and reforestation projects.
As a response to the covid-19 crisis that made tourism hardly possible, Six Senses also offers classes with their yoga teachers, chefs, meditation guides and other experts, helping people go through the usual guest experience from the comfort of their homes.
3. St. Regis: luxurious interior design
The St. Regis hotels’ branding is as high-quality as these luxury properties themselves. Dubbed the place “where indulgence meets sophistication”, these hotels’ strongest suit is the interior design, which is one of the most important elements of branding for luxury hotels.
As part of their brand identity, these hotels also have their “signature rituals”, consisting of drinks and food. The luxe hotels also have a history of almost 200 years, so the retro and everlasting logo design is naturally a part of their brand.
4. Auberge: keep social media current
As with other hoteliers on this list, Auberge does an amazing job of showing their amenities, from their boutique hotels on remote islands to luxe resorts that will offer a different sense of place.
However, what they do best is reiterating their marketing strategy to fit the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: they make their hotels seem like the best possible office for working from home.
5. Belmond: more than a place to stay
One thing that sets apart the Belmond hotels from the rest of the crowd, is their exquisite trains that help travelers explore destinations in style and class. Apart from having grand hotels in their portfolio, Belmond offers all sorts of experiences, most importantly the train rides. Hence, these journeys are part of their signature portfolio.
Learning opportunities about endangered arts and practices all over five continents are some of their perks, as well as safari trips and river cruises. So, needless to say, the experience and adventure with class is the strongest ace in Belmond’s branding sleeve.
6. Capella: personalized experiences
The Capella Hotel in Bali currently holds the Best Hotel In the World award, and naturally, they use that accolade in their branding. Some of their key value propositions are offering ultra-luxury, as well as personalized attention to their visitors in all their locations.
7. Waldorf Astoria Hotels: pop culture landmark
Waldorf Astoria is a hotel chain that is so deeply ingrained in pop culture (films, TV shows, books…), especially their hotel in New York City, that it seems like they don’t need marketing at this point. Product placement notable media has been one of Waldorf Astoria’s best utilized strategies, helping them achieve that cult status. Just for reference, it has appeared in more than 40 movies, like “Pink Panther”, “Scent of a Woman”, “Catch Me If You Can”, and others.
8. Taj Hotels: embrace your heritage
The Taj Hotel Group has a proudly and distinctly Indian history and identity, and they infuse their heritage every step of the way. The branding is no different: starting from the name and design of buildings, all the way to the logo and collateral—everything is weaved together with a thread of Indian culture and aesthetics.
9. The Ritz-Carlton: luxe service for high-end clients
The Ritz-Carlton infuses a sense of regality and exclusivity in every aspect of their brand. The logo, displaying a lion and crown, immediately gives away the sense of scarcity and luxury a visitor can experience.
Apart from the hotels and resorts, the Ritz also has a whole fleet of luxe yachts for an exquisite experience for its clients.
10. Intercontinental Hotels: connect with clients on social media
Similarly to Marriott, Intercontinental Hotels successfully used content created by its clients to reach out to potential visitors. The no-filter, no scenario look at their hotels and amenities posted under the hashtag #intercontinentallife helps social media users make a decision and reach their website through third parties.
11. Rosewood Hotels: create an aesthetic
Rosewood Hotels have a charmingly simple slogan: “A Sense of Place”. They are also aboard the hashtag train, encouraging people to share their journey with Rosewood on social media.
And since we’re on the topic of social media, Rosewood Hotels do an excellent job of art direction on their Instagram, separating their posts by colors and themes.
12. Jumeirah Beach Hotel: catering to families
Contrary to most luxury hotels, Jumeirah tries to brand itself as a favorable place for families, making it possible for travelers with children to find an all-inclusive service for their loved ones and accessibility for destinations such as the Burj Al Arab, even with big groups.
13. Shangri-La: earn customer loyalty
The Shangri-La (which is a cool name by the way) proudly dubs itself the pioneer of Asian hospitality. As such, they have multiple layers of loyalty programs, making it possible for their most valued customers to enjoy the rarest of experiences and locations.
14. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel: fine dining
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is especially renowned for its world-class gourmet food and awarded 25 Michelin stars for 16 locations. The dining experience is, quite naturally, one of their most important branding elements.
They also have a hotel built together with the Oberoi Hotels group, merging two cultures and heritages, Chinese and Indian, into one luxe hotel.
15. Oetker Collection: awesome web design
I was very surprised to learn that Oetker Collection isn’t a package of conditory products from Dr. Oetker but in fact a luxe hotel with an amazing portfolio. And this confusion gives you a sense of why they need to master their branding skills: otherwise, people would keep mixing the two brands.
What sets this chain of hotels apart is their brilliantly simple and easy to navigate website. Most of the hotels oversaturate their web design with too many photos and value propositions, but Oetker Collection keeps it simple with one hero image, the brand story and amenities separated into a few tiers of luxuriousness.
16. One&Only Resorts: modern hotel branding
Unlike most of these dated veterans in the luxury hospitality industry, One&Only has a very youthful and modern visual identity. The simple and elegant serif font in their logo, and the brand mark version overlapping two Os is a rare example of modern graphic design in this category.
17. Park Hyatt: emphasize a unique location
Park Hyatt is a chain with so many different locations and experience, that the footsteps of their visitors were retraced and the stories retold even in the National Geographic. Their brand is known for offering luxury stay in remote locations and culturally rich, but not as commercialized tourist locations.
18. Four Seasons Hotel: brand name that stands out
The key component of the Four Seasons is their masterful brand name. Reminding visitors that their accommodations and locations are fit for any time of the year, Four Seasons Hotels even has a suitable hotel logo: a tree in 4 different stages of blossoming and falling leaves.
19. Langham Hotels: expert staff to build a better brand
From Hong Kong to London, all of Langham Hotels are offering a vast portfolio of experts who make a visitor’s stay exceptional. All their employees, from stylists to wine selectors, are the top of the pick. Each of The Langham hotels reflects today’s interpretation of their five principles of work: Sincere Service, Innovation, Captivation of the Senses and Exceptional Design.
In short, as you can see from our examples, every single brand has its own unique perks and details that make it distinguishable. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for good branding, and trends and important changes impact it as well.
Still, there are universally important elements such as a brand name, logo, visual and branding identity, corporate strategy, web design, marketing and advertising, as well as good public relations. All of those elements will help you create a memorable and distinctive brand.