Traditionally, a brand is thought to evoke, in the customer’s mind, a Certain personality, presence, and product or service performance. A brand may be defined as a ‘name, sign, symbol or design, or combination of these, intended to identify the products of an organization and distinguish them from those of competitors.
This is also referred to as a logo when used in the product’s promotion. The brand mark is the element of the brand identity, consisting of the design or symbol. The brand name refers to the words, such as the name Nike, and the brand mark represented by the swoosh symbol.
Many hotel brands have become household names, such as Hilton and Holiday Inn. The following attributes associated with a successful brand, which are: name, symbol or both are well known; it is unique and cannot be copied by competitors; It is reflective of the consumers self image; it represents the intangibilities of the product; it informs and influences a consumer at the point of consumption; it provides the foundation for all marketing activity.
When developing a brand the objectives must be thought out. It is important to point out its characteristics, such as the brands quality, value for money, emotional appeal and status associated with it.
Kotler, (2006) suggests the following characteristics for designing a brand name: appropriate imagery; easy name to pronounce and remember; distinctive with supporting colour and design; uses words that convey the nature of the product and reinforce the benefits; registrable in the countries it wants to operate and should easily translate into a foreign language.
When the car manufacturer General Motors introduced the Chevrolet Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that ‘no va’ means ‘it won’t go’ in Spanish. Once they realized they quickly changed the name, at some considerable financial cost, and damage to the company’s brand image.
Research bears out how strongly the name in particular, but also the logo and design styles of different brands, can affect the perception of the offering represented by those brands (Holloway, 2004).
Once a name has been chosen it should remain protected until the product reaches the end of its life cycle. The cost of changing signage, supplies and merchandise can run into millions of pounds in a large hotel chain Also, due to the somewhat intangible nature of hospitality products which cannot be sampled in advance, the purchaser can have enhanced assurance through a known and used branded product.
A brand name derives its value from consumer perceptions. The expectations created by the name will continue to affect consumer’s evaluations of the actual brand performance, as has been shown in person perception (Darley & Gross, 1983). Brands attract customers by developing a perception of good quality and value (Kotler, 2004). Marketers would be well advised to invest heavily in creating and testing product names.
CASE STUDY – MALMAISON BRAND
Branding is a topic of great interest in the global hotel industry. In the USA, over 70 percent of the hotels are branded; in Canada, brand penetration is around 40 percent. Overall in Europe, only about 20-25 per cent of room capacity is branded by an integrated chain.
The Malmaison brand is named after a Chateau on the outskirts of Paris (the original home of Napoleon Bonaparte and his lover, Josephine), which was lavishly decorated and became an 18th Century style icon. Two hundred years later in 1994, Malmaison revolutionized the UK hotel industry by opening its first hotel in Edinburgh and heralding the birth of affordable chic.
The brand was born of the notion that there was a need for better value mid-market alternatives to luxury hotels. But affordability doesn’t have to compromise style, something Malmaison has consistently proved. Its original vision stemmed from an insight into business travelers and their needs, as well as the emerging existence of a growing group of discerning, upwardly-mobile customers who wanted more
than the mid-market brands offered.
Malmaison has always perceived itself as a lifestyle brand, marrying its emphasis on getting the basics right with extended hospitality, to an extent that few other hotel brands can match. As one of the first ‘lifestyle’ hotels on the market, Malmaison strives to stay ahead of its main competitors through
product innovation and by never losing sight of its target market – mainly mid-thirty something business travelers.
The MWB group, who own Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, have traded as two separate entities, keeping the mystic and brand essences of both companies completely separate. Malmaison Liverpool has ‘added value’ (Doyle, 2002) to its brand by introducing the Toffee Suite, named after Everton Football Club; there is also the Kop Suite for fans of their rivals, Liverpool. Brand image creation is also formed in other ways as one guests reports: “Feel great, feel free”, counsels a sign beside some attractive lotions in the bathroom, advising us to “take the toiletries”. “They’re all free”.
This is all intended to inspire brand loyalty by creating what hoteliers hope will be a distinctive experience for guests. Malmaison is now the hotel of choice for UK business and leisure travellers, according to the British Hotel Guest Survey 2008. The name Malmaison does not appear to have had a negative impact on the brand, this may be due to the images associated with the name being French and the translation creating different brand associations. The brand’s imagery suggests a contemporary, innovative, stylish and design conscious brand which is reflective in the product. These brand attributes have been successfully deployed to develop the brand’s equity and a strong image in the minds of its target market.