HEBS Digital’s Brand Marketing Manager, Garrick Lee, chatted
with the President of Panzano+Partners, Bill Rubino, to discuss his
career and how he creates memorable branding for companies all over
Garrick: Describe your career, and what led you into
the world of advertising, marketing, and branding.
Bill: My career has taken a fairly circuitous route on its way
to the branding world. I started my professional career in radio,
of the non-digital kind, which eventually led me to be an Olympic
correspondent in Lake Placid in 1980. I’d say that that
experience was my introduction to marketing and advertising.
My radio job provided me with a number of great networking
contacts, one of which was a man who ran operations for a large
northeastern shopping mall developer. In mid-1980 I took a field
marketing position with this Syracuse-based developer. I spent the
lion’s share of the 80s working for this company, in a variety of
positions including marketing, leasing, operations, and, finally,
as the company’s Director of Corporate Marketing.
As luck would have it, yet again, this position introduced me to
my current business partner at Panzano+Partners. I joined
Panzano+Partners in May of 1989 and have been here ever since.
Needless to say, the world of branding, marketing, and advertising
has evolved a great deal since my early days in the agency
Garrick: What would you say are the components of a
brand that helps to foster consumer loyalty?
Bill: In my opinion, great brands are consistent in all aspects
of what they do. In order to exceed a customer’s expectation, you
must first meet it. An exceptional product must be matched with
strong customer service. In the absence of one or the other,
loyalty wanes and brands struggle or fail.
Garrick: What are some of the biggest missed
opportunities that you see for brands?
Bill: We live in a world that revolves around ‘big data’.
You now have more information about your customer than ever before.
That said, many brands have used technology as the primary touch
point to connect with their guests. They have turned their
marketing efforts into a strict numbers game. When a brand becomes
so focused on the 1’s and 0’s, they can often neglect the human
element. Real live customer engagement is still a primary key in
fostering ongoing loyalty.
Garrick: If a hospitality brand is looking to rebrand
themselves or create a new brand, what are three pieces of advice
you would share with them?
Bill: First, they need to answer the question, why? If you’re
rebranding, why? What are the shortcomings of my current brand?
Will rebranding purge my company of all of its existing brand
equity and is that good or bad? Will repositioning my brand make it
more competitive? Remember, your brand isn’t just your look or
your logo, it’s the sum total of all experiences your guests will
Hopefully, if you’re creating a new brand you’ve done your
homework. You’ve identified a real gap in the market and you feel
that it’s prime space for what you’re creating. My advice here
is don’t launch until you are certain your brand is ready to
premiere. Remember it’s a long, slow climb upward, but plummeting
My second piece of advice is to be thoughtful. Put yourself in
the place of your guest. Don’t waste time or money on silly
things that at the end of the day have limited loyalty-building
potential. Also, remember not every guest wants to be given
something toward a future stay. Nothing beats instant
gratification. Find ways for your new brand to deliver something
Over the years, I’ve told our hotel clients to remember one
thing. For most travelers, the hotel is the first spot in their day
where they have any expectation of a pleasant experience. Getting
to an airport, parking, security, delayed flights, cab lines, etc.,
none of which offers anything but stress. In the hospitality
business, you have the chance to save the day. But, it’s
short-lived. Rooms that aren’t ready when promised, the wrong
room type, disagreeable desk staff, can make your brand part of the
overall din of a terrible day. Make the first touchpoint with your
guest the number one priority for your brand.
Finally, don’t follow your competition. Sounds obvious but,
we’ve all seen copycat brand marketing. Hotel A has a points
program so we need one too. They have an app, where’s ours?
Digital keys, free WIFI, the list goes on. Innovate. Do something
remarkable. Find a way to be first to market. At the end of the
day, you need to figure out why a guest will choose your brand over
Garrick: What are the consumers of the future looking
for when it comes to a brand?
Bill: Future customers aren’t so different from the customers
of the past. Future consumers are here today. They are sitting in
your lobby or standing in the queue at check-in. They want things
easy, they want things right, and they want good value. The biggest
difference with today’s guest is that your first interaction with
the modern customer is probably on a smartphone. Too many times
brands forget that and try and fit their entire experience into a
5” screen. Create a hierarchy of messaging that makes sense.
Don’t start by asking them to immediately join your
loyalty program, when they may know nothing about you.
I believe your future customer is the person who checks out at
Source: FS – All – Hotels – News
Coffee Chat: Panzano+Partners & HEBS Digital