Confession: Rebranding Accent Inns – Why? How? Huh?
Eek! I’m so excited! This week, we officially launched our new brand and it’s so electrifying because it completely resonates with who we are. We are so pumped about it I wanted to share with you the story of how it came to be.
Late last year we were just finishing our massive exterior renovations at all 5 Accent Inns when it occurred to us that this was a much needed rebirth for our 26 year old company. Realizing this opportunity, we felt the time was right to take a look at how the marketplace viewed our brand, because if we ever were going to make any changes, this would be the time.
So we eagerly did some focus groups of potential customers (naively expecting glowing grades). The results were startling. There was a big disconnect between who we are and what the marketplace thought of us as (an American bottom-of-the-barrel budget motel line). What about the eco-aware, socially responsible cool vibe local company that we are? How about one of the best places to work in BC? Beautiful, comfortable rooms at an affordable price? Where you can bring your dog and even your bike? (Insert completely baffled and dejected emoticon here. We were crushed.)
Obviously our message was falling on deaf ears or we were doing a lousy job getting the word out. So we buckled down and solidified what makes us different from the other hotels out there. We hired an excellent local marketing firm, Eclipse, who helped us figure out that it’s our strengths we really needed to push because dang-it-all, we knew we were different than all those other boring chains out there!! Our strengths are our down-to-earth friendliness, an unpretentious, genuine welcoming of our team, our local BC-ness, and most of all our fun or “different in a good way” approach to life, all while providing consistent reliable quality and value. But how on earth do you wrap up all those things and get it out in a message that people actually pay attention to?
First off, we needed to make sure all of our basic branding was actually “on brand”. That meant our American looking red, white and blue logo needed to change to reflect our BC roots. So our colours are now warm and fun and just happen to be the colours of the BC flag (no coincidence there!). We also changed our font to one that is more rounded and friendlier, as this is a major brand trait! And while we were at it we rounded some of the edges of the logo so they weren’t as sharp and pointy (again, that friendliness thing). We changed our positioning statement from the true but bland, “Quality Where it Counts” to the on-brand message of “stay local. stay real.” Our advertising now uses these bright fun colours and plays up our down-to-earth and playful attitude – which is actually causing heads to turn.
We were having so much fun we decided to tweak some of the items in the rooms so that they too were more friendly, fun and “different in a good way”. (But you’ll just have to stay with us to see them!)
We also spent a lot of time figuring out how we could promote our localness, while also highlighting our fun, genuine, “different in a good way” vibe and so the idea of a new app was born! Experience Local is going to be our new app on our website (launching very soon!) that will give you access to our staff’s favorite picks for their cities, their secret local insider knowledge and access to where the locals go in our cities. We’re also doing a lot of other fun local stuff, but I can’t spill all the beans here for fear our competitors might catch on! Again, you’ll just have to come see for yourself. (I promise, you won’t be disappointed.)
And the best part about all of this? I coincidentally ran into one of the participants from the ill-fated focus group at an Accent Inns’ Customer Appreciation BBQ. Apparently after meeting us, she decided to give us a try and now she’s one of our most valued customers! I asked her what made her change her mind and she replied, “I didn’t know what a great company you were! I didn’t know that you were local and that you cared so much, so I decided to give you a try and I love what I see”. Wow, now if only we can get the word out.