In our branding series, The Key 3: Building Your Brand From What You’ve Got, we’re taking a look at the three cornerstones of vacation rental brands—your approach to guests, your location, and your property’s signature vibe—and showing you how to leverage these to create a recognizable, relatable brand that calls to your ideal guests.
So, let’s talk branding for vacation rentals.
As the industry grows and changes (100% growth since 2014!), we hear a lot about the importance of branding. But what exactly is a brand?
(Hint: it’s more than just your rental company’s logo.)
Laying the groundwork for your vacation rental brand means considering these three essential factors:
- Your approach to guests
- The location of your rental(s) and what it has that the neighbors don’t
- The characteristic vibe your rental gives to guests
We’ll talk about all three in-depth in this branding series—and give you strategies for leveraging these three factors to create a brand that helps your ideal guests recognize you as the perfect choice for their vacation.
But before we get there, first let us tell you something important: your vacation rental already has a brand. Whether you know it or not.
You make countless decisions every day at your rental. What brand of towels do we use in the bathroom? What’s our policy for responding to negative reviews? What website design will best capture our rentals’ unique vibe?
All of these small and large decisions add up to your brand. The key is to figure out what all of these decisions have in common. And then formalize it and stay true to it in everything your vacation rental business puts out in the world—including, yes, your logo, but also your guest communications, your social media presence, and your website.
Let’s say you have an impressive mountain cabin with acres of untouched land surrounding it.
You might think building a decent website that boasts of its amenities and bedroom configuration is enough. But to truly tap into guests’ emotions, you can create a brand that establishes your rental as a whimsical escape under the stars, where you’ll spend time sitting around the campfire and exploring nature with the ones you love.
What sounds more convincing—booking a high-end rental or signing on for an unforgettable family experience deep in the woods?
Branding gets you from the former to the latter.
So what is a brand?
Listen to what Marty Neumeier, branding guru and Director of Transformation at Liquid Agency, has to say about it:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It is a person’s gut feeling because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets or the so-called general public.”
Put in terms for the vacation rental industry: your brand is how potential guests feel about the experience your rentals offer. In the end, you can’t control what they think about you—but you can certainly have an impact on it.
In fact, you may have already started building your brand without even realizing it.
Do you pride your rentals on their historic charm, leading guests to feel like they can expect a sense of nostalgia when they visit you? That will inform your brand.
Keep kid-friendly beach toys stashed in the garage, and have a colorful playroom for your little guests? That should play a part in your branding.
Building a brand from what you’ve got
Establishing your brand identity is a serious undertaking. Let’s start small by honing in on personality—because if you don’t know who you are, how can you expect potential guests to get the right idea about you?
In our series, we’ll help you lay the foundation for your brand by establishing the three key personality traits of your company. We’ll ask questions about your relationship with your guests, the spirit of your location, and the feeling guests get when they step foot inside your rentals to create a holistic image of your rental or business.
Once you’ve established these three traits, you can use them as your guiding light for every choice you make for your brand, from the tone of your copy to the structure of your website to the type of posts you publish on social media.
Meet Layla and Mark
As we move through these exercises, we’ll use example vacation rental owners to illustrate. Meet Layla and Mark, owners of a handful of stylish beach cottages in Newport, Rhode Island. They’re fictitious—and so is their company—but their struggles are modeled after real concerns we’ve heard from our clients.
So bust out your thinking cap and prepare yourself to dive deep into the personality of your vacation rental. Coming up first, we’ll consider your relationship with your guests.