This is how you build a brand.

The Old Clare in Sydney, Australia

Earlier this year I wrote about my first experience with The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney — an experience which left me completely speechless.

I recently stayed at The Old Clare again and this time, I spoke with the person who was behind the simply jaw-dropping experience I have that first time. Her answer appears here for you and it’s as simple sitting in front your computer and typing your customer’s name.

This is how you build a brand.

Earlier this year, I travelled to Sydney as I do each month, and stayed at a new hotel I hadn’t stayed at previously on a recommendation from a friend. The hotel is on the fringe of the Sydney CBD in an old, renovated Sydney pub.

As you may know, I’m quite active on Twitter and addicted to the cult of Crossfit which keeps me healthy, mindful and surrounded by wonderful people each morning.

So, I asked my Twitter followers the following question: Any good Crossfit gyms in Sydney? I’m there for a few days.

A few days later, I check-in at The Old Clare, I walk into my room and see the following:

  • A framed picture of my tweet
  • A hand-written note
  • A print out of ‘Sydney’s best Crossfit gyms’
  • A map with directions to the nearest two

It made my day.

It made my week.

I felt valued.

I felt listened to.

You won’t believe how many people I’ve told this story. It was simply jaw-dropping.

It got me thinking — in all the work I’ve done with corporates, government, and startups; all of whom have seen ‘brand’ as the ‘coat of paint’ of an organisation. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Jeff Bezos who owns a bookstore-turned-worlds largest online retailer named Amazon, is famous for saying:

Your brand is what they think of you when you leave the room.

Stop and think about that for a moment.

We spend so much time on building awareness, creating communications, polishing ‘the thing’, that we often don’t think about the simple interactions between point A and point B that mean more to our customers than the most other things.

Fast forward a few months I hear stories of guests staying at this hotel that are uncannily similar:

  • Dog treats on the bed for a friend who owns a Dalmatian.
  • A book on helping babies sleep for a friend who has a newborn.
  • A copy of a novel for a someone who works in a library.

I recently returned to this hotel and I made it my business to find out what was behind this simple but so meaningful interaction. Sitting with the manager over a coffee, her words are simple and profound:

“There are so much talk and chatter about personalisation in hospitality but we want to take it a step further. We like getting to know our guests before they arrive and find out what they like or what they are up to in order to welcome them with a personalised amenity rather than something standard.

That is what we feel makes a meaningful start to their experience with us.”

This is how you build a brand.

Simple.

This article was first published at The Weekly Journal of Creative Leadership

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