How to Produce Insanely Detailed Brand Guidelines for Crowne Plaza
We’ve done some crafty investigation work.
And despite the variety of content the pixels create on a weekly basis, there’s one page that continually ranks highly on our analytics: Crowne Plaza Brand Guidelines.
In fact, it’s so popular, we thought it would be a good idea to explain this project in a bit more detail. And maybe explain how we managed to deliver the guidelines and create one of our most successful projects to date.
You can even borrow a few of our ideas to create your own brand guidelines.
1. Ask: what’s the point?
No, we aren’t recommending that you approach every new client by sticking your feet on the table and shrugging with the aggressive nonchalance of Erlich Bachman.
Instead, if you really want to create a set of meaningful brand guidelines, ask your client what they hope to achieve. And what their current problem is.
In the case of Crowne Plaza, for example, this organisation had hundreds of hotels across 60 different countries. It was becoming increasingly problematic to ensure the brand’s core message was being successfully promoted at a local level. Furthermore, this message wasn’t being communicated in a consistent way - from the paper it was printed on, to the accompanying images that went alongside it.
This was the problem. And it was from this starting point pixel8 were able to take this information and create a comprehensive set of guidelines that changed how Crowne Plaza communicated - both internally, and to its guests.
2. Get to know the brand better than anyone else
But before we could get into the nitty gritty, it was really important that the pixel8 team knew exactly what type of communication staff and guests needed.
This is was the point where we embarked on a long research project - culminating in the creation of a new, precise brand essence that epitomised the Crowne Plaza brand.
It wasn’t our job to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we developed an essence that was a reflection of what already existed. To achieve this, our branding team considered:
Who are Crowne Plaza’s guests?
What do they want? What makes them different?
Are they ambitious? Are they driven? What incentivises them?
What role does travel play in all of this?
So we took this information and produced a refined brand essence that staff members, across the world, could understand and relate to. We also produced a new set of brand principles - which sought to define what Crowne Plaza does, how they achieve it, and how best to serve guests.
All of this information was included in the brand guidelines. But we made it our job to ensure the brand essence and core principles could be digested in five minutes or less - in simple, easy to understand English.
3. Don’t scrimp on the details
Simplicity, however, should never come at the expense of the all-important details. That’s why the Crowne Plaza brand guidelines went beyond your typical staff ‘rulebook’.
We created colour palettes, new logos, and even told them the best paper width to use. But what we really focussed on was ensuring that every piece of collateral - from email designs to print advertisements - remained consistent. This meant really getting to grips with fonts and making sure these guidelines could be easily rolled out at local level too.
So it wouldn’t matter whether Crowne Plaza’s guests were in Beijing, or in Shudehill, Manchester, anyone who came into contact with the hotel brand received the same communication. With no errors in between.
4. Perfect your tone of voice
In addition to refining the way in which words and brand messages were communicated, pixel8 also developed a new tone of voice for Crowne Plaza.
This was to be the character of Crowne Plaza. Its personality. And one of the most defining characteristics in setting the hotel brand apart from its competitors.
So we got to work and collected a series of words, or phrases, that we thought best represented the client. As a major player in the hospitality industry, and one of the most recognisable brands on the planet, it was important that the tone of voice reflected this credence.
Pixel8 produced a tone of voice guide that reflected exactly what made Crowne Plaza so appealing to guests. The language had to be confident, trustworthy, and exceptionally personable. These ‘cornerstones’ could then form the basis of all future communications - ensuring that every piece of branded copy, no matter how small, met these goals.
5. Set the house rules
Don’t worry. This is much nicer than it sounds.
Last but not least, we also created a specific set of ‘house rules’ so that anyone within the Crowne Plaza - who needed to write copy - would have some guidelines to ensure all their content remained on brand.
This included details about:
How to reference the Crowne Plaza name in formal/informal communications
How to use upper cases, plurals, and colloquialisms
Which grammar rules to follow
The pixel8 team also put together some information regarding how to create copy with language sensitivities in mind - ensuring that regional dialects, idioms, and phrases can be incorporated, but do not dilute the overall Crowne Plaza brand.
It was a major undertaking. But its successful implementation has transformed how the Crowne Plaza speaks with its guests and staff. Furthermore, it means that the heart of the hotel brand is universal - and retains its warm and confident persona at every corner of the globe.
How to create hotel brand guidelines
Working with the Crowne Plaza has been one of pixel8’s most exciting projects to date.
Following the completion of our brand guidelines, Crowne Plaza has established complete consistency across all communications - from greeting guests to delivering information to stakeholders. The global brand has also redefined its identity and core values, meaning that every piece of content reinforces Crowne Plaza’s message. And avoids any confusion about why guests should choose the iconic hotel.
Since then, however, pixel8 has carried out a number of different projects for Crowne Plaza. Our integrated marketing campaign has pulled on the resources of the whole team at pixel8: including social media, web development, artwork collateral, and photography.
Our journey with Crowne Plaza really has been a whirlwind. And we cannot wait to see what happens in the future.