Celebrity Cruises

Brand Positioning

Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, engaged Luxury Branding to facilitate course correction in the brand positioning of an award-winning cruise line.

Case Study

In late 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cruise industry into a complete global shutdown. However, at the kind introduction of long-time Luxury Branding collaborator, Kelly Hoppen, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo took advantage of the enforced pause in operations to engage Luxury Branding. Our task? To facilitate some deep reflection on the award-winning premium cruise line’s brand positioning.

We were delighted to work closely, albeit remotely, with Lisa and her senior leadership team to structure and refine Celebrity’s purpose and promise formally.

We conducted extensive cross-departmental interviews via Zoom, audited multiple strategy documents and marketing materials, investigated the market and interrogated the opportunity from our external perspective.

Arising from this investigation, we were able to diagnose Celebrity with a clear case of ‘Promotion-itis’, a condition that is common within the cruise industry (as can be seen from the images opposite).

Once we had shared this determination with Lisa and the leadership team, we prescribed a treatment plan comprising seven constructive actions.

We designed each step to build sustainable equity in the Celebrity brand, negating the line’s addiction to being constantly ‘on sale’. The objective of this course correction was to release Celebrity Cruises from the bargain basement and elevate it to a valuable and valued brand promising a ‘New Luxury’ experience to a newly identified cohort of Generation X guests.

Applying analytical rigour and conceptual creativity, we recorded the identity of the Celebrity Cruises brand in an actionable framework documenting what makes Celebrity special, different and better for the first time in its history.

The product of intellect and intuition, this single-page compass provided a trusted tool for facilitating internal strategic alignment. Then, inspired by Walt Whitman’s journey poem, ‘Song of the Open Road’, we composed a brand narrative that beautifully linked the nine compass elements in lyrical prose.

In a follow-on stage of work, we designed and delivered ‘Feeling Like a Guest’ (FLAG), a bespoke training programme that enables every member of Celebrity’s employees to better understand and engage with the mindset of the ‘New Luxury’ guest.

As a side-by-side training to Celebrity’s existing ‘World at Your Service’ (WAYS) and Celebrity’s ongoing work with Forbes Travel Guide, FLAG had two goals. First, build a deeper understanding of Celebrity’s future guests among the brand’s employees and second, develop an internal grasp and comprehension of what ‘new luxury’ means to Generation X.

In support of Celebrity’s post-pandemic comeback strategy, FLAG also helped to cement the brand’s refined promise as a ‘Always Included’ cruise line. Motivating everyone at Celebrity to embrace the transformation of the cruise line from premium to ‘new luxury’, FLAG was a positive invitation to Step Up. To lift the self-esteem of the brand so that its people could go out there with increased confidence to sell Celebrity for what it is worth.

With the assistance of a digital wizard, we hosted an extensive series of online seminars and breakout workshops to enrol the entire company in FLAG. We also designed a pocket-sized aide memoir that recorded the programme’s learnings – a lexicon of words and phraseologies that resonate with the ‘New Luxury’ guest, best practices and examples of ‘storyselling’, ‘always’ and ‘nevers’ and much more.

In April 2022, it was a pleasure to be invited by Lisa and her senior leadership team to join a group of VIP guests for the final shake-down cruise on the magnificent new Celebrity Beyond ship. This ‘wonderFULL’ event took place on two glorious spring days in the Solent, where it was hugely rewarding to see and feel the brand come to life onboard and to meet so many of this amazing brand’s partners and creative collaborators.

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