For the past two days, I have been attending the ASAE Marketing & Membership conference in Baltimore, MD. I went to a session entitled "Brand Image vs. Brand Identity: What do your Members Experience?" The presenter defined Brand Identity as what the organization wants to project--the brand promise that the organization is making. The Brand Image on the other hand is what people actually experience and what they really think of your organization. So the presenter proposed a relatively simple, but very thought-provoking question--is everyone on your staff projecting and living your brand?
Now this session was in the morning, and I still had my mind on my experience with the Hyatt Regency Hotel that I stayed at the previous night. I was excited to arrive at my hotel, because I booked late and the only thing I could find was a room a the luxurious, four-star Hyatt Regency Baltimore. I was shocked that the room cost almost $350 but I figured it was a splurge that I rarely take.
When I think of a Hyatt Regency Hotel (my Brand Image), I think of fantastic service, luxury and an overall great experience. In fact, Hyatt's website lists its Brand Identity: "Hyatt Hotels have long been known for going beyond simple accommodations to create rewarding experiences for its guests. Through dramatic design, innovative cuisine, and attentive service, Hyatt approaches the hotel stay as an opportunity to inspire. Now, that philosophy known simply as The Hyatt Touch®."
I was expecting The Hyatt Touch. What I got:
1) a double bed instead of a king because they ran out of king rooms.
2) an environment where everything was "pay to play" -- parking: $32. Internet: $1 per minute in their business center, otherwise you had to pay the T-mobile charge for wireless.
3) a locked mini-bar, so I went in search of where I could purchase a diet coke. I found out that there were no vending machines or convenience stores in the hotel which sold diet coke, so I asked to have the mini-bar unlocked. After three phone calls (one in which I was on hold for four minutes) and fifty minutes later, a repair man showed up.
4) the repair man had to come back to fix the television because it was stuck on the menu (again it took three phone calls).
If this is the Hyatt Touch, I don't want it. Even my $100 per night Holiday Inn in Minneapolis had a working television, free Internet & parking, and vending machines with Diet Coke. In this case, it is obvious that their Brand Identity (the Hyatt Touch) and their Brand Image (what I experienced) are not the same. They aren't living their brand, and therefore I won't return.
You can produce thousands of brochures with your brand promise, but if you aren't living it, it doesn't make a difference.