How Hampton Inn Got It Right

August 6, 2007

I had the pleasure of spending 3 total nights at two different Hampton Inns during a series of trips this summer. I’m fond of the facilities because they work well for my family but what I found so appealing on my most recent visits had nothing to do with my family.

I’ve blogged earlier about style guides. Somebody at Hampton Inn has put together a heck of a style guide. Starting with the graphics on the sliding entry doors, I was greeted by a series of signs that were not only visually appealing but informative. The pattern repeated on every surface right down to the keycard. It was awesome!

They’ve taken signage to the extreme, even labeling some things that you probably don’t need need to label (like utensils on the breakfast bar) but at the same time they’ve made it fun. The very simple words they use to describe everything from the front door to the restroom to my room key were accompanied by a half-tone photograph — of people, places, etc. When I was in Covington, LA, the key said “Louisiana,” and when I was stayed in Pensacola, FL, the key stated “Florida.”

Sure this all seems really obvious and so perhaps you are asking, why get excited? Because they’ve done such an awesome job of branding! The signage was interesting — and so simple. This wasn’t an expensive investment on their part, just one that required careful planning. And when I walked into the next property, I knew that I was at Hampton Inn again. Not because of the sign outside but because of the very cool signs inside.

Regrettably this great branding did not carry over to their web site and I didn’t take pictures during my visit so you will have to actually go to a Hampton Inn and view the graphics yourself. Once you’ve done that, I encourage you to think about how you could apply something so simple to your business.

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Protecting Your Image with a Corporate Style Guide

April 19, 2007

Whether they are buying new window treatments for your home or logo-branded premium items in their corporate colors, individuals as well as marketing professionals invest heavily in setting their style and promoting their brand. Yet often our best efforts are sabotaged by well-meaning spouses who bring home tacky Barcaloungers and rogue sales people who design their own postcards using PowerPoint. You can always hide that chair in the basement but once 500 postcards with your logo printed in lime green hit the desks of your best customers there is no taking them back.

Magazines and newspapers rely on style books (like AP) to set the guidelines for how reporters and copywriters should groom their content. Businesses large and small can take a tip from this premise and create their own style guide. A style guide doesn’t have to be lengthy or complex but should provide employees and business partners with standards for presenting your corporate image.

First explain the correct colors for your logo. Red comes in many shades but when you provide the RGB, PMS and CMYK combinations you eliminate mistakes made by graphic and web designers as well as printers.

Next, if you have different logos for different products or services, spell out which logo is to used where and by whom. Don’t assume that people know or will use the right one. Further, it pays to specify not only which logo to use but how and where it should be positioned in juxtaposition to other logos and elements on the page or screen.

Further, if you want all of your written communications to appear in palatino linotype then spell it out because Microsoft Word defaults to times new roman. (Better yet, consider creating a new Letter template or a new normal.DOT file.)

If you want all phone numbers to be formatted as 888.555.1212 instead of (888) 555-1212, then you need to specify that, too.

Of course the list here could be endless and it all really depends on your business. Fortunately a style guide can and should be a living breathing document that you change as your business grows. If you’d like to preview a few examples to gather ideas about what you might include and learn ways to present the information, check out these:

http://www.bcbsnc.com/inside/style-guide/

http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/guidelines/Onvoy.pdf