BR Case Commentary | Should Lilypad s Hotels Be Marketed Under the Corporate Brand or Their Own Brands?

L ILYPAD HOTELS and Resorts could certainly create some connections among its brands; the business rationale for doing so is evident. However, Andre needs to proceed with caution: It s critical that any linkages don t compromise the value of the individual offerings. A plan to emphasize the corporate brand over the property brands might very well back re. The implicit promise from each property is that no other hotel in the area will offer guests the same sort of culturally grounded travel experience. But how credible can that oneof-a-kind claim be if La Plaza s handwoven bathrobes are made in China and stamped with the Lilypad logo? Once you start making branding choices that don t ring true or that otherwise detract from the customer experience, you ve gone too far. Lilypad s brands are quite distinct in customers minds that s their greatest strength. So instead of making signi cant and observable changes in the rooms themselves, Lilypad s management team should emphasize changes behind the scenes to help boost the company s cross-sell numbers. The soft endorsements Lilypad is already doing (putting its name on coat hangers, for instance) may still in uence customers behavior over time. But the company should also make better use of other resources speci cally, the internet

Now Lilypad s VP of sales and marketing is nudging the CEO toward a top-down approach in which all brand promises ow from corporate. By linking the individual properties websites to the corporate one. though. Andre will need to position the Lilypad name broadly enough to encompass all the company s diverse properties. Lilypad would be able to tell the corporate story more comprehensively than it has in the past. And by forging stronger relationships with travel agents and the trade press. This seems to be working Lilypad properties are on a best-of list in a travel magazine.and various players in the travel industry. is that Andre and his team haven t found the right balance between the company s two approaches to brand management. so someone is doing something right. for instance. it is offering distinctive cultural experiences with decidedly local points of view. But this is likely to fail without a clear corporate brand strategy. he should start with the current brand promise and key in on the fact that Lilypad is not trying to out-luxe its rivals. Lilypad has been espousing a strong bottom-up approach: Managers at individual properties have used their own marketing methods. Rather. each property . Obviously. What s clear. It might even engender a community of brand fans. Lilypad would be able to give customers more information about the hotels. which the company sorely lacks. True.

Kevin Lane Keller (kevin.dartmouth. too. Andre should start with the current brand promise and key in on the fact that Lilypad is not trying to out-luxe its rivals. Only certain types of business travelers will want and need the same things as typical leisure travelers. If Andre and his colleagues want to emphasize the cor porate brand. high . Andre could take a closer look at competitors branding strategies although in many cases it would be an apples-to-oranges comparison.end travel experiences. Osborn Professor of Marketing at Dartmouth College s Tuck School of Business in Hanover.B. they need to be clear about what it represents. is the E.will do this differently but each must meet overall expectations that customers will get something that s one of a kind. Lilypad must also understand its target market better. New . offering its hotel guests expert-led tours of the Egyptian pyramids or the chance to play a game of polo with a They also need to remember that being part of a large corporate structure shouldn t require Lilypad s already successful properties to make any sacri ces.l (keller@tuck. A company like Abercrombie & Kent emphasizes unique. but also touts expertise as part of its brand.

At Lilypad. So when someone from sales and marketing drops by and says. ve years later.indd 56 1/8/08 10 1/8/08 10:38:57 AM :38:57 AM58 Harvard Business Review | February 2008 | hbr. 1872 Dev 1872 Dev.Hampshire. At most companies. By the time his tenure was over.rst-century brand management in a nutshell. Andre is becoming embroiled . but often CEOs have had little formal training in this area. That s twenty. and Procter & Gamble analyze and build their brand architectures. the brand is an immensely valuable asset. he thought about it once a day. I think we need to do things differently.indd 56 . he thought about the brand once a year. the chief executive is put in a dif cult HBR Case Commentary | Should Lilypad s Hotels Be Marketed Under the Corporate Brand or Their Own Brands? A FORMER C EO of British Airways once told me that when he rst joined the airline. He has helped companies such as American Express. Miller Brewing. Ford.

At one point. there to leverage long-term business strategy. which frankly makes them not that different from a lot of organizations particularly midsize businesses seeking McDonald s or Disney levels of name. emotional terms. The tool uncovered how value was generated at different properties by determining the optimal . But by the end of the case study. They are looking at brand management in a surface way. say. Andre and his colleagues need to systematically examine the corporate brand through a couple of important lenses: customers and culture. It s evident from the unfocused way Andre and others talk about the Lilypad brand that they don t have a clear sense of the customer. Great brands are single-minded about what makes them different from others. the individual properties are characterized as feeding people s desires and aspirations. Customers. which frames the corporate brand in terms of execution and operations. He and his colleagues aren t objectively considering the brand as a powerful asset. and quality recognition. To get more clarity about whether the company should be. Interbrand created a value-based modeling tool for a global hotel company that was trying to answer brand questions similar to Lilypad s. niche and focused. which casts the individual brands in sentimental. service. it s critical to ask. and what will future customers look like? Market research can the subjective and emotional topic of company names and identities. Who are Lilypad s current customers. Instead of approaching this branding matter as a name-change question. Andre is thinking about Lilypad as the best little secret in hotel management.

Otherwise he won t just have a not-inventedhere problem. and so on. Andre will also need to get buy-in from the senior leaguers across these different constituencies. The brand attribute shared by these disparate business lines is Virgin s commitment to serving customers. Culture. At Lilypad. they will also create certain expectations among customers. how Lilypad positions itself visà-vis its customers will have a huge bearing on its future as a brand. sales and acquisitions.relationship between customer-satisfaction scores and customer-experience attributes. design. It will require the orchestration of everyone who in some way touches the Lilypad customer people in billing. each proper ty man ager is a warlord in charge of his own efdom. The top team was then able to make a strong business case for new branding investments which have resulted in signi cant increases in sales and cross-property usage. That s one of the rst things Andre s going to have to change if he wants to build a global brand and I think he recognizes how dif cult that will be. Ultimately. And if the business isn t aligned to deliver on . Take the Virgin brand: It s not exclusively about airlines or beverages or broadband connections. If Lilypad s senior managers increase the role of the corporate brand. he ll have a not-executed-here problem.

a wasted name-change investment and at worst.those expectations. the result will be. deeply unhappy customers. . at best.