How to gain the upper brand

By Hotelier Middle East

Ritz-Carlton also looked to its customers when deciding to extend its brand to develop Ritz-Carlton Reserve, exclusive destination resorts aimed at ‘the most discerning traveller craving a personalised, meaningful escape’. There is currently one resort in Thailand with future expansion plans to include the Middle East.

“We saw that there is a need for a more niche brand, which came from market research and from our customers, and this is what we provided for them,” explains Pascal Duchauffour, vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Once a clear understanding of the target customer and their requirements has been identified, visually mapping out the customer journey is a technique used to understand how the guest will engage with the brand at various touch points.

The touch points are not limited to the guest stay but extend to include the moment the guest first hears about the brand to communication following checkout.

“It’s about every level of interaction that the customer has,” explains Dan Dimmock, strategic planning director for the Middle East at Fitch. “Once you’ve got that customer journey, and got those [touch points] marked off, that provides the benchmark for success.”

Getting to this stage involves a significant amount of research which then provides the foundation for the creative process. Olivier Auroy, managing director for the Middle East at Fitch, describes this part of the process as the ‘discovery stage’ and should include everything from looking at the market, defining the target audience, and analysing what will differentiate the brand from its competitors. Investigation into the competition is crucial.

“There needs to be a considerable amount of thought given to understanding the competitive set allowing a brand to create a sustainable point of differentiation,” stresses Gaurav Sinha, managing director at Insignia.

It’s these points of difference that you can use to attract customers to your brand and form the basis for key messages when communicating to the intended audience.

The Brand Union’s James advises also looking outside the industry during the research process. “Look at other industries for inspiration. Ask the question about how other industries are innovating as this can generate ideas.”

The creative development is arguably one of the most exciting elements of establishing a new brand. The challenge of coming up with the ‘big idea’ based on the intended vision is rewarding with a whole host of resources and inspiration being taken into consideration. Sinha explains: “From external audits to defining an internal service philosophy, looking at authentic triggers of relevance and then coming up with a core proposition, [create] a single-minded promise that cuts above everything else.”

James adds: “Make sure the concept has an idea that is then driven through absolutely everything.”