Figuring Out Your Branding: Three Things That Matter

I’m away in Glasgow today for the Small is Beautiful micro business conference. But that’s by the by. What I really want to talk about is the hotel I’m staying in.

It’s the CitizenM. Sorry, I mean citizenM – no caps.

To give you an idea of the sort of place it is: everything is operated by a tablet here – ‘curtains’ (which are actually blinds) and ‘blinds’ (which are actually… a different type of blind), the aircon, the lamps, the television (porn channel included), the big lit-up cube thingy whose colour you can change (???)… you name it, the tablet can do it.

And it’s not just the tablet. This hotel has got its branding down, and it’s because the people behind it have recognised three important truths:

1. What you say matters
2. Who you say it to matters
3. Details matter

What You Say Matters

Just look at this soap:


All of its written materials contain this same light touch of humour.

Who You Say it to Matters

This hotel is clearly for young people who like travel and gadgets. And it does everything it can to appeal to exactly those people. Most of the reviews on TripAdvisor are glowing. It’s number three out of all the hotels in Glasgow. But sadly, not all the reviews are as stellar as you might expect:

Avoid unless you are looking for an ‘experience’ rather than a bed for the night. I knew it wasn’t for me as soon as I encountered the overly complicated self check in – why don’t all the staff hanging around do it for you? – and couldn’t get the lift to stop at my floor. I may be old fashioned but I do prefer my bed to be made on arrival and to be able to get out of it on both sides. The see through plastic toilet cubicle may be somebody’s idea of intimacy but not mine. I couldn’t work the tablet that supposedly controlled the TV and mood lighting. I am sure others more up on these things could, but I would rather have had a kettle a tea bag.

I think it’s fair to say that the people who thought this place up don’t give a shit about poor 40-year-old David, who shall never return. And why should they? They know he’s not who’s going to rave about the place to his friends or – as evidenced – write good reviews.

Details Matter

Before I even looked at it, I knew the do-not-disturb sign wouldn’t be your regular ‘Please do not disturb/Please clean my room’ job. And I was not disappointed:


Of course it talks about naked people. And look at this!


I’m slightly saddened to note that I am now the sort of person who gets excited by things like this – and not in an ‘oh it’s so cute’ way, but in an ‘oh, those guys nailed their branding!’ sort of way.

But didn’t they though? Nail it, I mean.

Now take a look at your own business’s branding. Does every element of it appeal to the right person? Right down to the words on the bags you hide your hairdryers in?

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