Branding by Denny Kurien RGD helps Hotel Vie become a dynamic meeting place in Vaughan
I was the Art Director on this project for Cleansheet Communications, a Toronto-based agency. Cleansheet is one of the preferred agencies on record for Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio of Hotels. The Tribute Portfolio consists of a family of independent boutique hotels that are characterized by striking design moments, bold use of colour and noteworthy art installations. Hotel Vie is one of Marriott's Tribute Portfolio hotels in collaboration with Parentela Group.
Designing a hotel from scratch means serving many parties. Marriott Hotels have strict global requirements that every one of their hotels must adhere to. We did that and yet we also brought to fruition the dream of a dynamic meeting place where life is celebrated for Carlo Parentela, President and CEO of Chateau Le Jardin & Hotel Vie.
We had to keep in mind four groups of audiences while developing the branding for Hotel Vie:
1. Celebrants and guests of weddings and events at Chateau Le Jardin - the hotel is an extension of their celebration, a place where the party starts in style and ends in joyous revelry.
2. Travellers visiting Vaughan for work or business - the hotel is a place in the region where they can find new and exciting experiences that mark a job well done and enhance their trip.
3. Friends and family visiting relatives in the region - the hotel offers world-class hospitality in a stylish and intriguing environment.
4. People living in Vaughan - the hotel makes them feel part of a larger community of interesting, accomplished people celebrating occasions, big and small.
PHASE 1: Discovery work/research, site tour, competitive scan; Strategic work session with client team; Development of Strategic territories; Final Strategic Direction; Brand Narrative; Brand Immersion Session
PHASE 2: Overarching Brand Portfolio Structure; Hotel naming and logo development; Brand guidelines; Key messaging
From the initial concept stage, we were commissioned to guide the brand. Upon research, we discovered that the importance of the hotel would transcend its physical space and serve as a symbol to the city of Vaughan itself. To celebrate the life and spirit its completion would bring to Vaughan, we called it the Hotel Vie (V, being a nod to Vaughan, but also the French word for Life). It also alluded to the brand experience we intended to create.
Conceptually, we deepened the relevance by adding natural elements found in Vaughan. For example, the logo includes a bird unique to the region. We brought this to further vibrancy with a colour palette that complements the notion that celebratory events unfold at the hotel.
The idea of conveying a life well-lived through celebration is everywhere in the brand's design - in the business cards, in the shampoo bottles and vehicles and on the website. Since one of the design applications is going to be a dynamic, ever-changing wall in the foyer, the elements of the V in the logo are designed to change equally dynamically. On a wedding night, the images could be completely relevant to the wedding party at the hotel. In the winter, it could be as broad and inspiring with beautiful, snowy and icy imagery.
From our first meeting with the client team, we knew we were working with a highly creative and engaged group. Their passion and spirit came through in everything they did, from the charity work they do in the community to organizing events that bring high-profile celebrities to perform at the venue. We knew we’d be pushed and inspired to bring a high level of creativity to every aspect of the project.
A challenge that presented itself early was the fact that the client had a number of other properties, including an event venue and restaurants. Hotel Vie's branding would have to find a place in the overall brand portfolio of the client while finding its own brand voice and at the same time positioning itself firmly within the Tribute Portfolio Brand group of hotels. While mining for strategic insights, it became apparent that there was a thread that ran through all of sub-brands of the Parentela Group: a vibrant energy that brought an element of celebration to customers at every touchpoint. Ultimately, we defined a brand that both leveraged the existing strengths of Chateau Le Jardin and developed a clear and distinct identity for the new hotel.
The Hotel Vie logo is inspired by French luxury and modernity. The “V” is brought to life with embellishments of opulent filigree. Within the details, we pay homage to the pileated woodpecker (a native bird of Vaughan) and a single rose, which represents the legacy of the Parentela Group. The Hotel is set to break ground this year. We’re looking forward to bringing the brand to market as the hotel construction gets underway.
1. Immerse yourself in your client’s business category. Get inside the head of the target audience. Study and visit the competitive set. Dig deep into the company’s DNA and values – it’s important to tie in elements of the client’s history into the branding. This really helps to intertwine storytelling elements that are inextricably linked to the client’s brand culture.
2. Research the history of design to find inspiration. A lot of the design themes for the hotel were inspired by art deco and art nouveau styles.
3. Bring options to the table that touch on various thematic territories. It’s important to show not just one design, but different designs that all play off the same strategy. You can share a wide range of design options that still ladder up to the over-arching strategic insight (see below).
1. Provide your design agency with as much discovery material as possible. Don’t hold anything back no matter how mundane or irrelevant you may think it is. You’d be surprised to see how seemingly insignificant information about your company can inspire creativity.
2. Invite staff members from across your company to have a seat at the table in the early stages. Insightful nuggets can come from anywhere – sales staff have valuable customer insights; IT understands how staff communicate with each other and with consumers; product development teams have background information that provides great insight as well.
3. Get the design firm in early. Brand design works best when it is integrated in the inception of every other aspect of your business offering. In the case of a hotel, branding must work seamlessly with interior design, operationalization, Food & Beverage programs and even architectural features. Bringing your multi-disciplinary team of specialists to the table together can result in amazing synergies.