Marriott … Schmarriott

One brand two experiences


Last week, I had the pleasure of staying at a Marriott on Monday, and the displeasure of staying at another Marriott the following day. Same logo at the entrance, same uniforms at the reception desk. The problem? That’s where corporate consistency stopped.

A corporation cannot afford to leave its brand building solely in the hands of the marketing team. Those precious TV seconds and those expensive collateral materials will amount to nothing if they are not supported by a strong corporate culture.

I need to refer back to Alan Beckwith’s book, where he says something in the order that in the service industry (and I believe that, one way or another, we are all involved in the world of providing service), if you don’t have a good product it’s not worth spending in marketing, and that if you do, you don’t need to spend in marketing. Mr. Beckwith does not dissuade us from practicing brand building or investing in advertising. The principle of marketing is not based on selling; it is based on communicating. What he is trying to tell us is that we need to place first things first, and the first thing here is for everyone in the company to understand the meaning of the brand that signs our paycheck, and embrace it with enough pride and sense of belonging to become its true ambassadors.

Making an analogy, this sense of belonging and representation is not far from our role as representatives of the nationalities, religious beliefs or communities we belong to and which we are associated with to create positive or negative stereotypes.

Going back to Marriott, the problem with the second hotel was not just human resources, though the receptionist assigned us to a room where, somehow, the cleaning of the bathroom had been overlooked when doing the room. The problem was everywhere: the light on the front sign not working, the quality of the amenities below average, the linen and even the comfort of the mattress felt totally different. This all boils down to the fact that Marriott does not value their brand, as it should, because they allow it to be placed with pride at the front of any building without exercising the appropriate branding control. Now, this is what I call Branding Mumbojumbo!

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September 16th, 2009 14 Comments Branding / Branding Blogging / Branding Marketing / Branding Strategy / Branding Thesis / Destinations Branding

  1. Ross

    This is a classic example of how branding needs to start from within! Failure to do so will result in cases such as this one.
    Marriott may, and probably has a big brand book and long list of values, but how familiar is the whole team, all across the country and world?
    Corporate needs to make sure that they communicate their core values to the entire team, from the management to the cleaning ladies.
    Marriott = Hotel = Service…

    September 17th, 2009 //
  2. Brian

    BMJ –

    This Alan Beckwith sounds interesting… what is the book and is it work reading?

    BTW – nice post. All big corporations and franchisees need to read this!!

    September 18th, 2009 //
  3. Blare

    it is so difficult to always get it right with franchises!
    Sometimes you get a good hotel and sometimes you don’t.

    That is so funny how you had two different experiences, in two different cities, but same hotel brand name!

    This article really does call out the brandingmumbojumbo in Marriott’s marketing efforts because of their inconsistency.

    September 21st, 2009 //
  4. ftpmumbojumbo

    Yes Blare. It is difficult but not impossible.

    The US economy is built on the franchise model and by definition a franchise model is one good business repeated over and over again. I do not excuse Marriott for its lack of consistency, others have done it with much higher standards (Ritz Carton just to name one case)

    September 22nd, 2009 //
  5. ftpmumbojumbo

    The book name is SELLING THE INVISIBLE and I have read it several times. Easy to read and filled with cases and facts. I hope you like it. please share your thoughts after reading it!

    September 22nd, 2009 //
  6. ftpmumbojumbo

    I totally agree Ross. No matter how much you invest to communicate with the consumer, your human resource will always be the most important stakeholder in the management of your brand

    September 22nd, 2009 //
  7. Sgt. Pepper

    Hi Mumbo Jumbo,

    How could a big company like Marriott maintain all of their employees happy and motivated? Of course a good product it’s required but is that enough?

    Great blog by the way.


    September 24th, 2009 //
  8. ftpmumbojumbo

    Usually companies that are able to keep the standards high invest a lot in training their human resource and conduct audits on a periodic base. If you look at any successful service driven franchise, from Cheesecake factory to Club Med, you can corroborate that it can be done.

    September 24th, 2009 //
  9. Brian

    Just wanted to add to this post…. Yesterday I went to Burger King, the big and famous BK… and I was so unsatisfied!
    Burger King is one brand that does spend a lot of money on marketing and advertising. You see them everywhere fighting Mc Donalds, but let me tell you that I have had much better experiences at Mc Donalds. The food tastes fresher, the customer service is much better, they at least act like they care mire than the people at BK did.
    Sorry CP+B that all your hard work is going down the drain because BK does not invest enough money in human resources.

    September 27th, 2009 //
  10. Dave

    Positive perceptions are built from the inside out, not from the pages of a brand bible sent from corporate.

    October 1st, 2009 //
  11. ftpmumbojumbo

    I would say that brand building uses both assets. The perceptions build from the inside out, IF AND ONLY IF, the pages of the brand bible are a reflection of their reality

    October 18th, 2009 //
  12. ftpmumbojumbo

    I believe that the difference between McDonalds and BK is really deep and mainly structural. The first one is clear to where it’s going and the later is constantly changing directions. Changing leadership, changing positioning, changing portfolio, changing agencies, changing so much and so often, that nobody finds a way anymore. (Now they are talking about removing the King).

    When the leaders don’t know were they are going, the followers don’t know what to follow. Everybody is lost and no matter how much resources are invested… everybody from the vendors to the consumers, and everybody in between, are confused.

    October 18th, 2009 //
  13. Glennie Richison

    Terrific blog, many interesting details. I recall four of days ago, I have viewed a similar blog. Does someone know how to track future posts?

    April 1st, 2010 //

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