Customer experience design

Luxury Branding was engaged to reboot the poorly-received rebranding of Orient Express Hotels to Belmond with signature programming to invest the new name with meaning.

Case Study

How do you transition a loose collection of hotels to a brand with real purpose and salience, promising tangible value and trusted excellence for its global, high-net-worth customers?

Especially when a recent corporate rebranding programme is failing to deliver?

40-year-old hospitality group Belmond, formerly Orient Express Hotels, urgently needed to re-conceive its branding strategy. The major rebranding exercise launched two years before had changed the group in name but not in nature and was faltering seriously.

A deeper strategy was needed based on customer and market insights and delivered with an understanding of internal corporate thinking and structures. In particular, it needed to re-position the company away from old-fashioned notions of opulence and win relevance for a new generation of travellers.

Essential was to secure the engagement of senior management. Working closely with the Belmond team, we refined the brand strategy framework and, based on their feedback, articulated the Belmond Brand Promise. This was a simple narrative encapsulating what would make Belmond different, special and better.

Next, we established a Brand Steering Group, a cross-product team charged with taking the new brand thinking into an organisation historically independent and often emotionally reluctant to embrace change.

Applying our proven guest experience models, we mapped key touchpoints in the customer journeys across the company’s hotels, trains, cruises and safaris. We generated an innovation bank of Brand Differentiators to make the brand strategy real and unique.

We also advised on the Belmond brand architecture and how to optimise its portfolio, while being flexible enough to accommodate the company’s ambitious growth plans.

The result is a company that knows where it is going, with the direction and structure to take it there. A dated marque on its way to transforming into a leading global brand of luxury travel experiences.

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With a unique blend of ‘calculated creativity’, Luxury Branding helps ambitious organisations to define and express how they are special, different, and better: special for their affluent customers, different and better than the competition.

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Piers Schmidt and Ian R Douglas of Phoenix Global are the co-founders of Kingham Leigh. This dynamic new partnership has been created to design, develop and operate innovative hospitality projects in Europe and beyond.

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