The customer is not looking for another hotel or restaurant but an experience. Now more than ever businesses are distinguished for their operational prowess and overall brand image. Simply put, quality service and good perception.
Look around you, there seems to be no shortage of, good and not-so-good, businesses in Nigeria these days. Fresh entrepreneurs are emerging every day with brilliant offers or an unrepentant conviction to win. A business has often been described as creative problem solving, meeting demand with supply amongst other linear definitions. The average Nigerian business is designed on these premises and often treated as a means to a very shallow end. To bring this to context, several ambitious entrepreneurs are looking to debut in the Hospitality industry with the “next big idea”. The problem is ideas are a nickel a dime, and let’s face it the world is running out of truly novel ideas. Whether it’s a hotel, restaurant, lounge, nightclub or resort you must be banking on a lot more than just a brilliant idea. With the increasing competition in the hospitality market, your best bet at success is in the brand you build.
The customer is not looking for another hotel or restaurant but an experience. Now more than ever businesses are distinguished for their operational prowess and overall brand image. Simply put, quality service and good perception. We have been preoccupied and fascinated by hospitality businesses and brands that have built a lasting legacy; the Hiltons, Ritz and the rest of that elite class. What is it about these brands that have kept them around for this long with presence across the globe whilst maintaining a consistent reputation for excellence? It’s all in the way these businesses were built and the stories they have told over the years. Without any doubt, it is time for African Hospitality brands to start considering how far they wish to go and how well they intend to play the game. Is your business built to triumph, is it built to last? Below is a checklist of a few important fundamental elements that guarantee a long-lasting successful business and brand.
Choose your brand’s philosophy
What’s your ‘why’? Why should the customer care about you? What do you want people to remember you for? It’s always advisable to kick off building your brand by defining your philosophy. It is the guiding principle behind your branding strategy and drives other marketing efforts. Your philosophy is pivotal to your growth; It emphasizes your values, tells your stories and helps you position yourself in the market. Your philosophy is the “why”. It is the rationale behind your patronage, the story customers tell themselves for choosing your business over others.
On the level of business development, location plays a key role in the success of the business as a whole and a lot is dependent on it. There will be more details on this in subsequent blog posts. For this piece, one of the important roles of location is in determining the look and feel of your brand. There’s a huge difference between a hospitality brand on the beach and one in the heart of the city, this distinction determines such details as the logo design, choice of colour, tone of voice and communication. In the overall brand strategy, location informs a lot and is necessary to consider when choosing the emotions to evoke.
Don’t underestimate the power of the name
What’s in a name? The power of a brand name cannot be overemphasized. The decision of what to name your brand hold so much weight. You may choose a name for your brand based on where it is located such as “Lagos Bistro” or you may choose to have your name associated with the experience you offer “Fisherman Club”.
No matter what the case might be a good name helps the customer find and remember you. It also helps with marketing, storytelling and copywriting efforts later down the line. When looking for a name you must look out for a name that is easy to pronounce across languages and is short and succinct. Our expertise takes this even further helping you to choose a name that is keyword rich and readily found on google. Don’t take a chance on your brand name this could be a careless mistake down the line.
Look and Feel
Once you have a philosophy in place, it’s time to choose the look and feel of your brand. From the name of your business, logo, brand voice and communication material you have to decide how you want to get your message across in the best way. With your logo, for instance, you create a symbol and a colour scheme that represents you, so that this symbol can stand on its own even without the logo, whether it be on social media, corporate documents or marketing materials.
Create a strong narrative for your brand
You need to understand what good storytelling is and why it works. Ever given a thought to your brand story? Many studies have made it clear that humans are designed for stories and are receptive to good, engaging stories. Well-told stories lead to a better understanding, trust, comprehension and more. Stories engage customers on an emotional level endearing them to your brand. Customer choices are emotional. We like something or we don’t. Brand stories are woven out of history, vision, mission and promise to your guests. Done well, you build a brand that your customers feel connected to and eager to promote by word of mouth. Communities and tribes, in the marketing sense, are built upon these premises.
“Get the story. The story’s the most important thing. Once you’ve got the story then everything else will fall into place” Walt Disney.
Create and perfect a dependable operations strategy
It’s not enough to copy and paste strategies for operation or do things a certain way because our competitor does it that way. As a business looking for long-lasting dominance, you have to build an operations system that serves your overall purpose. It’s important to break down your processes, deconstruct them and look at ways you can improve functionality, and reduce friction, double handling and efficiency. What innovations and technologies can help you better serve your customers? What system can ensure your service and brand stays consistent?
With an operation strategy, the goal is to craft a system that is functional, effective in reducing costs, delivering profit and still providing customer satisfaction. You must be looking to keep working at it until you have a solid system that can be scaled and duplicated without losing its essence.
Remember that your guests are your brand
The kind of customers you want to attract shapes the kind of brand you have to be. Understudy your target customer, and understand what they need, their motivations and preferences. Your finding should be woven into every fabric of your brand activities.
It is important to be consistent and authentic. Avoid gimmicks and tactics that offer shortcuts to customer satisfaction. Customers can see through the fake and when you can’t deliver on your promise.
Great relationships are built on trust. It takes time to build so your day-to-day activities must be centred around providing a great customer experience every time your audience comes in contact with your brand. Happy customers become brand ambassadors, spreading the good message of your brand through, word of mouth, content and reviews online.
Nail your marketing
A great story must be told through the right channels. Besides your website, and this is key, social media is the best way to promote your brand and create excitement within the hospitality market. Always stay on your story, tell it well and tell it often. Invest in proper content, photography and videography. Encourage your staff to participate in content creation that you vet. Instagram and Facebook are great mediums to influence and fascinate people with your story. A well-crafted content and social media strategy provoke interest and anticipation from guests.
Without giving careful thought to your brand, in eight months of launch, your product/service attribute would have been copied by several “me-too” businesses. Your secret weapon is no longer a secret, and soon after you are considered “like the rest”.
These are some of the ways you can build a hospitality brand that can stand out and stand the test of time. To summarize all I have listed above, a proper mix of functionality, Brand story and Marketing is what you need to build a lasting brand.