Category Archives: luxury brands

‘Know Thyself’ – Applied To Your Brand

Like any worthy communications geek I am a firm believer in the value which authenticity creates for a business and subsequently in establishing a brand’s reputation. The creative process is vast and nuanced. The ‘thing’ that drives a creative person forward is their passionate commitment to manifest their vision. Perseverance, certainly a measure of luck, but mostly (I believe) it is infusing authenticity into every detail which makes the rest of us take notice, purchase, and eventually become brand ambassadors. Creative people don’t (necessarily) set out to win accolades, while those are very nice and certainly add to financial success, innovators simply mean to honour their passion and provide those like-minded with their solution. “If you build it…”

I’ve recently encountered two Scandinavian businesses creating global buzz within their respective niches. So completely have Sweden’s ASKET and Norway’s Maaemo gotten it right I want to share them with you as a sort of litmus test for building your own brand efforts. The online identity for both companies is austere Scandinavian – clean, contemporary, timeless, and compelling.

One company offers a permanent (non-trendy, wearable) collection of things men want to wear (and women will likely ‘borrow’) in 15 different sizes, the other gently guides your perspective about sustainability, localisation and cultural heritage through gourmet (nearly private dining) experiences. What these three men, August Bard Bringéus, Jakob Nilsson Dworsky and Esben Holmboe Bang, have in common is their openness about their philosophies, they take us on their journey and they put their names ‘on it’.

ASKET tOf course there is an element of personal branding to this but less than might be found outside of the Nordics. Resonance drives our desire. We want their end products (or experience) for ourselves because authenticity and transparency (even so far as breaking down precise costs) are so integral to their brands.

I had multiple windows open on my laptop when the Maaemo movie began playing. Thus, my initial exposure to Maaemo’s story was through the thoughtfully selected ‘sound’. I knew (without looking) I was about to experience something reverent, primal and ancient, something which would awaken my intellect and senses and move the needle on my perception of Nordic gastronomy. Something the storied Michelin guide recognises in Maaemo having awarded Esben and his small team its third Michelin star.

“To me, the smell of Norway is fire, smoke, salt and drama. There is a useful pain and nerve in the history of the Norwegian people that affects the food in a good way.”                                                                                                                                  ~ Esben Holmboe Bang

asket pileEqually so the perfection offered by August Bard Bringéus. He wanted a white t-shirt.

What both August and Esben have in common is that they view themselves as ‘outsiders’ (either to the culture or the industry vertical) and their efforts are their personal interpretations which they offer for our consideration.

So much about ensuring we even have a planet to call home is about making conscious purchasing choices, buying less but of great, lasting quality – equally valued whether experiential or material, and aesthetically exciting. We don’t get to that purchasing decision without the creative efforts of others. Without their peeling away the layers of their journey we are stuck with simply buying a sweater or eating a meal. As the specter of mediocrity runs rampant perhaps in 2018 examples such as Maaemo and Asket can serve to remind us, might ignite our collective consciousness, to elevate our consumption. Regardless, the way they have aligned their brands with their respective ethos sets standards worth emulating.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

  AllThatINeedbizcardartfront

 

Advertisements

The Social Media (non) Crisis Management of Maison Goyard

This is a story of new (money, culture, technology) smashing into old (quiet, refined, luxury) and what happens when the latter doesn’t understand the former. Those brands whose communications teams are not savvy to the nuances of social media court disaster and entrusting the reputation management of your brand to a junior staff member without critical thinking and strategic depth in their portfolio of skills can lead to a public relations nightmare.  Equally so this about how businesses need to be agile in our always on, 24/7 365 digital world and your five-year plan demands flexibility and responsiveness to what happens on social platforms. This is the paradigm shift, social media now drives the success of your business – in real time.

I watched just an epic fail in the clash of cultures represented by the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards and the 163-year-old French luxury brand Goyard. Perhaps it is their storied history, or the fact that Goyard’s own head of communications is not on Twitter or their (perceived) niche market does not rest with the Wild West of pop music or all three in combination with their Frenchness but when, (quite literally), handed the market expansion opportunity of the century Goyard blew it.

Back Story:

goyard scarfIt started with a scarf, le carre en français, and the globally famous hip-hop artist and entrepreneur DJ Khaled (a major social media influencer with nearly 3m followers on Twitter alone) who loves the Goyard brand (whose Twitter account is less than 10K).

Goyard doesn’t make clothes so Khaled purchased several of their logoed silk scarves and had a bespoke, one-of-a-kind jacket made to wear while he hosted the (globally televised) VMAs, you can’t buy this kind of exposure. Mind you we are talking about dropping at least four and possibly six figures on this jacket, and if you recall Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point DJ Khaled is precisely the type of person that every brand covets to maintain their relevancy with changing market segmentations and to drive their brand and in particular revenue forward.

Unprepared, Goyard’s social media account manager started receiving tweets enquiring about the jacket (and other clothing items such as caps) during the VMA.  Sadly the Goyard replies were rude and frankly insulting (amongst these claiming that the scarf jacket was a fake – now all deleted from their feed).  Despite Goyard’s various tweets (it’s the internet so these live forever), DJ Khaled takes the high road and still promotes Goyard and makes nice publicly.

The PR crisis started on social media but it is still playing out in traditional and web-based media two days later. This ‘live forever’ storyboard has redefined the brand’s reputation with publications as wide-ranging as Melty Style, New York Magazine, Luxury Daily, W Magazine, HipHopDx and the #SoSoShow covering the story. Maison Goyard just learned the hard reality that Twitter’s 313 million active users serve as a powerful force to be reckoned with; ignoring their immediate enquiries or, what’s worse, insulting them they will never forget and absolutely will find somewhere else to spend their money.

Goyard has been building its brand reputation for 163 years but because they failed to keep pace with societal shifts and the use of social platforms they have undone those efforts in mere seconds.  As the creator of a luxury brand, a connoisseur of beautiful things and as a communications professional the Goyard social media fail was painful for me to witness, inexcusable and avoidable. Goyard can take a ‘lessons learned’ and revamp their business with an agility that its heritage precludes and we, as a global audience, are not witnessing and they should be talking to Commarglo about how to rise like a phoenix from this episode.

 

Le Carre Jacket.png@djkhaled bought a bunch of@goyard

Commarglo-Logo

Visit @Commarglo to learn more about online reputation management for your brand.

 

 

 

 

Does your hotel really deserve Four (or more) Stars?

Every hotel and resort wants to avoid a disastrous TripAdvisor review of their property. And let’s be perfectly honest these posts are often simply conveying glaring truths written by someone in a nasty, snarky tone who has far too much time on their hands. In our social media driven world theseTrip comments have far reaching impact on your business, and almost universally what prompted them could have been avoided.

How much money do you spend annually on marketing your property? Has anyone from the agency handling all those efforts for you, including and especially social media marketing, EVER set foot on-site? Spent a night or two? Eaten in your restaurants? Used your facilities?  Prior to launching any initiative which will draw attention to your business let me share some practical advice with you; ensure that your property actually exceeds the copy being written by said agency.

IMG_2142

In Asia your bathroom could be outside meaning rocks, insects, amphibians, heat and humidity – #wearyourslippers

Over the years I have stayed in a wide range of Relais & Châteaux, Leading Hotels of the World, bed & breakfast inns and in the last year I have actually stayed in a couple of hostels. It’s safe to say I have accumulated a fair portfolio of impressions of ‘the good, the bad and the downright horrible’ and these extremes provide an ample baseline for what makes a memorable stay.

“Service is a promise that cannot be seen, touched, or felt through any of our external senses.” ~ Jag Randhawa

Every member of your staff has an impact.  While they are paid to ‘take care of us’ believe me when I say I can tell exactly who loves their work, people and your business. Equally so there are those who I stand in front of and wonder ‘who is this person related to?’ because there is absolutely no explanation for them otherwise having a job in the hospitality industry. My business partner was a guest at a hotel where we had previously stayed a year earlier for a mere three nights. On his arrival he was greeted with “Where’s Teresa?”. Why should this bell captain (of a luxury hotel in Istra, Croatia) who meets thousands of people a year and tends to all of their various pieces of luggage remember me?  What set him apart from his colleagues in the first place was his atttitude, and in turn that was rewarded with a note in an envelope with a tip on my departure. (I also take the time to make mention of extraordinary service in writing for the benefit of career advancement.) To guests reading this, when was the last time you did either?  When20150929_142514 thoroughly impressed I will likely ask to walk into your kitchens to praise the chef and the kitchen staff (usually resulting in a hug). Your wait staff, front desk staff, the concierge and the service staff usually know who I am because I ‘engage’ with everyone you have hired (and I do mean EVERYONE). And yes, I actively share on social media the (good) things that I notice.

“In bed my real love has always been the sleep that rescued me by allowing me to dream.”

~ Luigi Pirandello

It would be a great idea if management actually spent one night a week sleeping in every single room in rotation and applied a very critical evaluation to their sleep in said room. Springs that poke you in the back are not the way to win praise from your guests, replace them. The standard height for a chair or a sofa is between 26 and 30 inches so why would you let a designer convince you that a bed lower than this is optimal? Put your beds on a handsome frame, give the mattresses proper support and make them a height that anyone can sit on the edge of comfortably.  (I will also offer that the added height eases the stress on the backs of your housekeeping staff resulting in less days off or workman’s compensation claims.)

Those narrow strips of brocade or velvet at the foot of the bed are especially silly if they don’t even match the draperies or occasional pillows in the room, save the money, whereas a nice blanket is highly appreciated. You don’t have to turn down my bed and put a chocolate on the pillow (or offer me a small tray of them with a cordial – alcoholic or non) but it is very thoughtful.  Your sheets should be the highest quality your budget allows and there should never ever be a frayed hem, stain or hole in them. Same goes for towels, err on the side of generous in size and having thick terry robes or even lovely waffle woven ones wins serious points. It should be self-speaking that no guest should ever see black mold – you’d be amazed. Caulking should be maintained and/or replaced, facets and drains should work. Single use loofah mitts are biodegradable and eliminate the need for wash clothes (which seem to be an increasingly rare appointment in hotel bathrooms anyway).

20150831_192209~2~2

My pillows go everywhere.

I carry my own pillows with me.  Why? Because, with the greatest of exceptions, even fine hotels stock fiberfill pillows which are miserable and hot.

If your windows have three layers of curtains designed to ensure that your guests sleep well yet they are too short and the light creeps in (early morning or late night it doesn’t matter) – that’s an immediate fail. For goodness sake insist that the decorator add three inches to the overall length of the window PLUS whatever you need to hang them from rods to make certain that they cover your windows.

20150830_194906

Saddest. Plant. Ever.

Honest. This palm was sitting in the hallway leading to the wellness center and spa of a 5-star hotel I stayed at! Does this convey wellness to you? How many of staff members walked past this pitiful palm and yet didn’t ‘notice’ it?

Replace your lightbulbs! This should be perfectly logical but nothing says ‘down-on-the-heel’ or we’re not paying attention faster than a lightbulb here and there that is burned out.

Wi-Fi being slow isn’t even an option anymore. Test it. Put five staff members with devices in close proximity to one another throughout your facility and have them randomly watch videos, post photos and UPLOAD huge files – all the normal things we do as your guests – and if they can’t all do what they want simultaneously BUY MORE BANDWIDTH! Industry analytics are treading that (US) travelers (business and leisure) are now for swearing posh properties for value or economy hotels because these offer free, unlimited, always available Wi-Fi and luxury hotels are charging an additional $25 per day, per device. The old expression fits here “penny wise, pound foolish”.

Maintain your property with critical attention to detail. My business partner once waited 6 hours in a steam bath of a July hotel room for his AC to be fixed. He finally gave up and got into the shower only to finish and discover a ladder blocking access into his room and a man up in his ceiling finally dealing with the HVAC. This with no forewarning such as the simple courtesy of a knock on the door or a phone call! What’s more as the filter was taken down it was so caked with dust that an industrial vacuum was required to clean up the floor from beneath the ceiling to the door. Fail. Fail. Fail.

Which accommodation actually deserves four star designation? The bed & breakfast inn with exquisite (envelope) organic teas, made-to-order fresh truffle scrambled organic eggs, densely seeded home-baked bread (and a toaster) with small batch local fruit preserves or the hotel with Lipton 20150821_080944tea bags, buffet warmer scrambled eggs, with similar bread but no toaster and plastic packaged jams? It should be noted that the same bed and breakfast inn, staffed entirely by women, insisted on hauling my 35kgs of luggage upstairs (and then back down at check out) and the luxury hotel (staffed by muscled men) didn’t have a bell captain on duty.

I once left a pair of mixed suede and leather navy high heels outside my hotel room door at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago for polishing, sadly they were returned in the morning universally polished (destroying the suede).  Management made it right by reimbursing me for a pair at the now defunct Marshall Field’s prior to my meeting later that day but training is obviously everything in preventing such ‘missteps’.

The realities of customer retention demand training your employees to become brand ambassadors in addition to their job descriptions. Everything that is right or wrong about your hospitality business is all too visible to your guests if not to you and your staff. It’s not an excuse but it’s easy to become inured to noticing details. Pay attention and you’ll never have to worry about how to bury bad reviews ever again.

Commarglo-Logo

We’d like manage your online reputation and showcase your property with resonate content that will only serve to enhance your brand, grow your audience base to drive incremental revenue and ensure that ‘your story’ is the best it can possibly be. Get in touch. Visit @Commarglo to learn more about leveraging social media for your brand.