So I have a client named David who has become much more of a friend.
He is a professional real estate investor in the vacation rental business, and we both share the same passion for business.
Dave is a very savvy person with a master plan for how he’ll develop a vacation rental company and grow it within just a few years to be a multi-property company and I’m honored to be a part of that.
He’s a very busy person, and needed some help developing a vacation rental business brand.
That’s one reason why he reached out to me. He also shared similar frustrations with big vacation rental listing sites as many of you have.
He knew that in order to create a secure business he couldn’t build his foundation on uncertainty, and relying on vacation rental distribution channels alone is doing exactly that.
I recently talked about how to survive the big changes that are coming into our market with the HomeAway buy-out and the new emerging competition.
I also explained in a recent blog post why vacation rental owners need to develop their own brands and identities. But where does an owner or manager start? Great question!
Where do you start?
There’s a lot of thought that should go into developing a vacation rental brand if you want it to be a “sticky” and memorable brand that exudes what you and your VR company are all about.
Today I’ll share with you how to start an extraordinary vacation rental brand out of thin air like I did for David’s vacation rental company.
Consider your brand identity
In order to create a brand, you’ll first wanna think about the name of that brand and what it’ll stand for.
When people see your brand they should get an idea right from the get-go of what your company is about.
Already have a vacation rental brand?
Ask yourself “should I rebrand my vacation rental company”.
Is my brand messaging clear?
Are the benefits of my company being transmitted properly through our brand identity?
In the past I’ve recommended for some vacation rental companies to rebrand their vacation rental businesses. Why? To help them clarify their messages to travelers or to provide a newer, higher quality brand message to the folks who experience their brand.
If you didn’t take the time to consider your brand thoroughly before creating it, I recommend you revisit your branding today.
Creating a new brand out of thin air
When starting from scratch, the first thing you’ll want to figure out is, what do you want your brand to say to people?
Once you’ve determined what you want your brand to represent, I recommend having a creative meeting to discuss some of the ideas with other people.
It’s advisable to have several people involved in developing your vacation rental brand.
Sometimes ideas we have are not as good as we think they are.
That’s why having some people around us to point out the good ones from the bad is critical. You’re creating a vacation rental brand you will represent to the public for a very long time, and you want to get the brand messaging just right.
When I asked David what he wanted his brand to tell people he told me “superior service and quality”.
This is about as broad of a statement as it gets, and it is surely a brand message many other business owners would want to have associated with their vacation rental businesses too.
Truthfully his response sounded a bit generic to me.
Asking questions to peel back the layers of your brand
In order for me to hyper-focus on his brand message and what he really wants his brand to say, I had to ask Dave “what does that really mean?”
He explained further to me that he wants to create a brand which people can rely on with an expectation of top-notch service. He spoke about large hotel brands like the Westin.
He said “you know that you’re going to get exceptional service when you go there.” He wanted to create a vacation rental brand known for it’s above average service and quality.
So how do we take this branding concept and make it unique and less generic while translating the right message to people about the brand?
The Think Tank
I needed some time to think. I had to close down the computer and take some quiet-time to allow some of my ideas to permeate.
And I’ll be honest with you, not every idea that came out of my head was worth writing down…but I did it anyway.
Anything that had some kind of ring to it, I wrote down on a piece of paper having a few not so great ideas written down helps make great ideas stand-out on the page.
After I had all the ideas down on paper, I went through a preliminary selection process. I looked for the worst of the bunch and removed them one by one.
Get a second, third, and fourth opinion
Sometimes, I asked people. It was something like ‘hey Megan what do you think of this for a brand name?’
There were times when I disagreed with the person I asked, and before eliminating the idea completely, I asked a few more people.
I eventually got the list down to about 12 of the best vacation rental brand names I could conjure up.
Check the domain
I had a few others that I really liked but had to eliminate these ideas because the domain names were not available. You’ve gotta make sure the domain name is available or else don’t bother.
Even though there were no companies operating under those names, people bought domain names and just sat on them (domain squatters) until someone like myself decides they want to buy that brand/domain name and they usually get a steep ransom for them.
You’ll want to make sure the domain name you’re going to choose is available for registration. You can check in a few quick seconds by using Godaddy’s domain name search.
I then took these 12 vacation rental brand names and presented them to David and his people. They began to tear the names up one by one.
They eventually stopped eliminating brand names and were left with just about three options that they really liked.
They then got their focus group together and settled on one.
The brand name David and his team chose for their vacation rental company is…
Six Star Vacation Homes
Six Star clearly represents a “cut above the rest.”
It’s sort of like “my dial goes past ten”, as one of my other clients, Ray shared with me after telling him this story. He was referring to turning up the volume past the maximum volume.
This brand message is very clear since property ratings only go up to 5 stars.
Using 6 stars tells people right away that what you’re offering is better than the rest! This is a differentiator.
Creating a vacation rental logo
Now that we have the brand name, it’s my job to create a brand identity, and that starts with creating a professional vacation rental logo.
A vacation rental logo is very important if you want to create an extraordinary brand.
A skillfully designed logo can work sort of like Hieroglyphics. With one look at your logo, you instantly receive a message.
As part of my process of creating a high quality custom logo, I drew out a few options before having one of our designers DJ translate it into a reality.
I created a few concepts of different design layouts and positions. Again some are better than others.
The idea is to get the ideas down on paper and then communicate effectively what I want to see in terms of color and clarify the design to my creative team.
Here were my first conceptual drawings of the logo-
Here are other designs we came up with that didn’t make the cut-
And this is the final version-
Don’t forget about social media!
Did you know? 71 percent of internet uses are more likely to purchase from a brand they are following on a social networking site so it’s important for you to get your brand on social networks.
When designing a vacation rental logo you’ll need to create one that will work on social networks.
Your image should be 300 x 300 to fit properly.
The logo below is a modified version made to fit those small profile thumbnails used by social networks. As you can see it has a “stacked” design.
You don’t want Twitter or FaceBook to cut off your logo because it doesn’t fit properly. That looks unprofessional, it’s all about the perception of your brand’s quality .
This is how it will show up in your social profile-
Take Away Points When Creating A Logo:
- Do research.
- Make it brandable. How will it look on your letterheads? Will it look good on your shirt?
- Make it memorable. You want people to remember it. You want it to be “sticky.” It’s easy to remember six star because it’s unusual.
- Consider colors. There’s a reason we chose gold and black.
Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Look out for my post on the psychology of colors.
- Tell a story behind the brand. Every great company has a great story. With David, part of his story is his brand commitment to go above and beyond for their clients.
- Have a design brief meeting. Be open to feedback. It’s important to get all different opinions and expertise. This should help you to develop a snapshot of what your brand should look like.
- Sketch out your ideas. If you want to avoid being frustrated with the designer, make sure you provide good conceptual ideas for them to work with. They can’t read your mind.
- Check domain availability. Only buy dot coms. Just because a dot net is available, don’t go for it.
- Invest your time. Don’t rush the process. Work with designers who will be patient with you.
- Don’t be cheap! This is one of my pet peeves. This is your brand. Don’t go to Fiverr and pay five bucks for a logo. You will only get out as much as you put in to your brand/business.
- Be different. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen owners use “your home away from home.” Come up with something original.
- Clear concise message. Be clear on the message. Don’t be quirky or too cute. It should be straight forward and easy to get.
I hope this information helped you and gives you insight on how to create a vacation rental brand!
But this is only the first part of brand development.
You have to remember that your brand is not just your logo.
You have to be the co-author of your brand story.
Consumers are more likely to engage in business with you when they can see a face behind a brand, rather than just a company name or a logo.
When the CEO of a company serves as the public face of the company, transparency is created. And that’s vital in today’s market.
Some of the most effective CEOs utilize this tactic, and I will show exactly how to do this in my next post.
If you have any questions about your brand, please comment below and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
Would you like to create a power vacation rental brand and logo? I create all sorts of vacation rental brands and logos based on the client’s preference color requirements and feedback. Check it out in the vacation rental marketing store.
What do you think?
Thank you for taking us behind the scenes Jay.
You’re welcome Josh. Thanks for not laughing at my doodles 🙂
I’m hoping blogs like this one will shed light on how to create a real brand and respected business. It’s the first real example I’ve posted on the matter. Glad you enjoyed it!
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