Unleash Creativity: How to Maintain Brand Standards Without Being Boring

When designing and building a hotel, it is essential to have the right team of people committed to working together to achieve the best results. And while adhering to brand standards is essential, one must be aware of the dangers of hampering designers’ creativity. Here, two top designers share their take on designing to brand standards.

Juliette Ashworth, CHADA

Juliet Ashworth – Creative Director/Owner, CHADA

Hotels with distinct personalities tend to be the result of operators loosening the reins on brand standards, allowing designers to drive a property’s unique DNA.

An experienced hotel designer can navigate through the traditional standards document, which arrives in the inbox when a project starts, to recognize the must-haves and the negotiables.

Brand fundamentals that the customer might intuitively expect from a particular brand, such as a larger than normal desk in their bedroom, a bed of a certain size, or meeting rooms and a gym, are easily taken into account. But we’re prone to push back when standards get lost in aesthetics, which stifles creativity and produces cookie-cutter experiences. Unless of course that is the result the operator is looking for.

Right now we see two distinct camps: brands that are looking for less design and more standardization, and the exact opposite.

With the latter, we can be given a handful of brand pillars – key features or ingredients – but like the mixologist, we can create the signature cocktail.

Our approach to developing new brands is now holistic, from naming to all messaging and interiors, based on market insight and powerful storytelling.

To avoid brand washout – a blurring of brands as they proliferate at a seemingly unstoppable rate – operators know the value of individual stories for each property in their lifestyle portfolio.

Here, the Brand Standards have a different role to play and so do we.

What we’re hoping for is a good operator briefing. Kind of like a car manual, it will tell you what’s under the hood, but the car’s design and driving experience is what will sell it every time.

Marriott Docklands Restaurant

Michael Drescher, Director of Interiors, DKO Architecture

Michael Drescher, DKO Architecture

As a designer, it’s not about imposing my own personal design ideas on clients. For me, it’s about questioning the brief to get the best design and the best value proposition. Each project is tailor-made and must be adapted to its context.

At DKO, the focus is always on collaboration and harnessing the creative power and knowledge of other designers, technicians and consultants, as well as the group of key stakeholders. This ensures that the design intent is fully realized.

At the Marriott Docklands, for example, every detail has been considered holistically. DKO worked closely with Marriott International, Peter Rowland Group catering and branding agency, Studio Ongarato, to create a cohesive vision. The team collaborated closely at every stage, with a design focused on storytelling and respect for place as fundamental concepts. Each F&B venue in the hotel has been designed to be evocative, remembered and revisited. Our team has created a unique experience for locals and visitors – from interior design to menu, branding and service.

Over the past five years or so, hoteliers have been looking for new ways to innovate the guest experience. Deliver unique, immersive and fully curated experiences. And we can leverage the brand philosophy to create an interesting and unique experience.

At the AC Hotel by Marriott Southbank, for example, the interiors team really focused design ideas around a “perfectly sharp” brand identity – promising everything you want, nothing you don’t. need “. Selected materials and finishes emphasize quality while capturing human desires for comfort and relaxation. The subtle layering of materiality with modern classic finishes creates a feeling of calm with small moments of pleasure. There are vintage record players and radios in the bedrooms, Korres natural toiletries and an evening gin trolley to help you unwind. The hotel is also pet-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your four-legged friend at home.

Most can appreciate the benefits of stepping away from brand standards to create the best outcome.

As a customer, our expectations of a hotel have changed. And hotels must adapt to this diversity of the lodging landscape. One way is to offer hotel food and drink and a more individualized response to the venue. Customers are looking for a sense of belonging. They seek out and enter bars, restaurants, cafes or hotel lobbies. F&B within a hotel will inform brand identity and become destinations in their own right – not just for hotel guests, but a space where locals travel for an experience.

Nicholas E. Crittendon