Brand clarity and flexibility the secret to scaling boutique luxury

Brand strategy, brand DNA

By its nature, a boutique brand built on super relevant experiences is intrinsically linked to one location. Brand and independence are often at odds, but W Hotels seems to have cracked the code of how to scale luxury experiences and having a clearly defined brand DNA is crucial to this success.

Anthony Ingham, Global leader for W Hotels Worldwide recently shared how W hotels balance between brand and independence in an interview with Behind the brand.

Anthony says that W invented the branded lifestyle hotel. “It took hotels from being a really functional place, where you sleep, eat and meet, to something that is more of a lifestyle environment with great bars, great restaurants and also somewhere where people want to be seen.”

W is all about creating amazing experiences. Anthony says that creating a hotspot with the right blend of customers and unique restaurant, bar and retail experiences in one city is relatively easy. However, replicating this in multiple places is where it becomes difficult. “What’s cool in one place, is not necessarily the case in other places”.

The secret the W’s success comes from having a clearly defined but flexible brand. In particular, Anthony stresses the importance of brand principles (what we normally refer to as beliefs). The starting point for W is that each hotel is defined by the city it’s in. Then, the W DNA infuses their approach to hospitality and experiences into the mix. How they think, believe and behave are flexible enough to be tailored so they are relevant and compelling for each place but still keep a common brand thread.

What is also interesting is how W Hotels has also managed to create truly differentiated experiences not only across their properties but also maintain this within one of the world’s largest groups. Anthony describes W as the wild child of Starwood. “There is an entrepreneurial spirit…we’re like a free atom within Starwood. He also concedes that the group brings some pretty strong benefits, especially access to talk 21 million SPG members.

Brand experiences, brand principles

With W’s brand credibility built around authentic and valued experiences it’s no surprise that they can’t sell the experience through traditional media channels. Instead, they are focused on developing the right partnerships with music, fashion and design influencers. This is all about creating exclusive experiences, aspirational events and highly valued content – fuel for their fans to share through W’s digital eco-system.

Learn more about the secrets of the W brand. Watch the full interview below.

Michael Hughes

Michael is Managing Partner and Strategy Director at Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years’ experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in unlocking the strategic power of your brand to create a differentiated, compelling and authentic brand proposition that will engage all your audiences. Michael has extensive experience working across Australia and the Middle East working with leading Australian and International organisations across just about every sector.

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