The challenge with refreshing the SPG brand was how to create a branding system that could be subtle and strong while binding all of Starwood’s 9 hotel design-led, lifestyle brands together.
BRAND DESIGN STRATEGY
Strong enough to stand alone while flexible enough to live with 10 other brands
The challenge was to create a visual language system that at times could be strong enough to stand on its own creating a unique brand presence but also work with the 9 other Starwood brands. Given the diverse brand landscape of the Starwood brand portfolio, this was a significant challenge as sometimes SPG does its own unique advertising, sometimes it does co-op advertising with one or multi Starwood brands and it always appears in the lobbies and rooms of the hotels. The solution was to a visually simple system that allowed for strong and iconic graphic elements that could be used in varying strengths depending on the context in which it would appear.
Designing a system beyond the star
When we started designing the new visual language, we started with something old – the 9-point SPG star from the original logo. We used it as the inspiration for the entire visual system and created two key visual elements. The nine-point SPG star is created by combining several isometric shapes, one for each hotel brand. Both the interior star (used in the SPG logo) and the larger isometric star reflect the nine brands within the SPG portfolio. The isometric shape comes from the negative space the nine-point star creates. The SPG isometric star is made up of nine rotated isometric shapes. The inner star, with its points flattened, is the new SPG nine-point star. The isometric star is then used as a design element in communications.
Re-designed collateral system
The base visual elements were then used for a complete design refresh so all brand touchpoints. The isometric formed the core of the visual language which was simple enough to be very adaptable but unique enough to create a strong visual language.
The real heart of the program – #SPGLife
I lead the creative direction for shooting the new brand photography that was done over three years across 15 cities around the world. The hotel brands are able to show photographs of the physical hotels and with the new photoshoot, I wanted to show the physical representation of the rewards program – its members. So all the photos were shot with real SPG members who had no modeling experience. The challenge then became to create a style that would work across numerous locations with amateur talent. The result was a fresh look that really connected with SPG members and was even copied by our competition for their rewards program.
The best hotel rewards site
Over a 9 year period, I designed 2 different generations of SPG.com, which has consistently been recognized as the best hotel rewards site. The latest incarnation combines the new visual language with a user experience centered around modular design to make it as flexible and customizable as possible. See the case study for SPG.com here.
The best hotel apps
The SPG app was the first app ever to utilize state-aware technology, creating an interface that unites all nine of Starwood’s distinct lifestyle brands and its nearly 1,200 hotels and resorts; and adjusts the app’s look, feel and content depending on whether the user is planning, en route or already checked in to a specific hotel. The app has a lifetime average of 4.75 stars out of 5 and the last 6 versions have a full 5-star review from guests. See the complete case study for the SPG app here.
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