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Stake Your "Brand" Sword In The Sand.
By Rick Hendrie
Saturday, 23rd April 2005
 
A might dramatic, you say? Not when you consider all the reasons we conjure to retreat from the values we say we hold dear in managing our brand and business.

We're not in a war, but we are on a mission, a mission to lift the standards of performance, to elevate the fundamentals of good food, hospitality or service into an indelible experience, something someone never forgets. That won't be accomplished with just the physical ‘doing' required of the brand concept, but by the essential ‘being' in which your values inform every moment. I want your brand to be created with conceptual magic.

But it's staying power comes when you imbue each second to resonate with authentic values, so that we believe in you, in spite of all the lies we are told and disappointments we endure in our everyday retail experiences. When you exceed our hopes, those shriveled prunes crushed by so many unsatisfactory and inauthentic transactions, we'll rise from such cynical ashes, phoenix like and go with you. If you continue to deliver on those hopes, we are yours for life.

Calculate the value of a delighted lifelong guest and tell me if that isn't worth considering the effort.

When I speak to audiences about the real work needed to craft a brand and thread it through every component of the business, I see eyes shine. But with the enthusiasm is a cloud that passes across many a face which says, "How can I do that?"  or, "It'll cost too much (fill in the blank) money, labor, time, capital, re-engineering effort." Yet, how many organizations spend countless hours, dollars, sweat and soul drenched blood to produce a mission statement & a list of core values? Good businesspeople know that values are the fuel which animates everything, that make the impossible seem attainable & worth the pain and effort. In my world, Remarkable Branding is powered by values, your True North, the essential touch stone for every decision you make.

This comes from two recent experiences. I have a client who has fashioned a wonderful, upscale deli and kitchen. He and his family have been in this business for over 16 years. They are in the midst of a ‘refreshening' of their successful brand. The most amazing part of the experience is their willingness to consider the brand as a complete business system rather than a graphic look and ad campaign. They've done the guest homework. They ‘get' the way they're perceived. The retail experience will be true to those revelations.

But, it's the decision they've made to base their entire way of doing business on the value of Integrity. Oft used, I grant you, but not when it is the single value upon which they ‘stake their brand sword into the sand.'

Their commitment to Integrity hasn't been fluffed up into a mission and list of core values, but two simple statements, "We do it right and we do the right thing", by their approach to dedicated quality, by how they work together, with every constituent, by everything.  You should see the extraordinary work they're doing around revising core procedures and menu development or how this single value determines the way a cashier might great a guest or answer the phone.

This is inspiring work and makes the case. The result is an experience that has its moments of truth carefully orchestrated, not just for the dramatic impact of brand distinction, but from the power of a singular context that affects the entire business. If a single unit, with much to lose is willing to do it, why not you?

The second story involves a hospitality organization committed to being both guest centric, and ‘living' values based in the way they intend to do business.

They're ready to reassess every single inch of every job every offering, every conceivable element of guest contact and revise each, to raise the bar to Exceptional. It's not often that such associations even see a rationale to do such a thing. There are too many for whom marketing is the monthly mailer.

What's more incredible is that this is a business which sees their job to exceed the guest's wildest dreams of superb guest service, product and hospitality.  They understand that membership will grow, when the association creates a residual memory through repeated execution of a superior brand experience. They're willing to put their money on the table and do the hard work. If they can, why not you?

So what is the "Brand" sword in the sand? It's the decision to say, "Screw it, I don't know how I'm going to get there, but I'm prepared to do what it takes." That single intention to heighten the brand beyond the typical marketing definitions, combined with the thought of, "I'm sick of being just ‘OK'. I've had it with playing small." will take you to another level of performance.

With that one courageous act, the single overriding value you own in your life becomes the context for everything. "OK" becomes magnificent, and "small" combusts into a sun.  With that act, many a business will "think themselves accursed they were not here", as you hurtle ahead of the pack on the way to ‘exceptional'.

Richard K. Hendrie
Chief Experience Officer
617-335-1011
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