Hotel 43

Savvy branding unlocks a boutique hotel’s potential

What does it take to create a brand strategy for a boutique hotel whose owners lack a unified vision about branding and target audience? We found out when we helped create Hotel 43, one of Boise’s most popular hotels. 

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The challenge

When the new owners of the downtown property that would become Hotel 43 contacted us, they wanted a brand strategy to unlock the hotel’s enormous untapped potential. The property, the Statehouse Inn, was old and tired—a hotel that was often used by public employees on a per-diem basis while visiting Boise on state business.

The solution

Oliver Russell developed a brand platform that started with a backstory that was extended by shaping a distinct personality supported by clear values, purpose, and messaging. The name was chosen for being evocative of a sense of place for the brand: Boise is on the 43rd latitude and Idaho entered the union as the 43rd state, among other reasons. Next we planned an integrated, comprehensive media and public relations campaign to cover the primary target market of the Northwest.

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the results

Following significant word-of-mouth buzz generated by our pre-opening media tour, we implemented a lavish grand opening that exuded the hotel’s brand. The coming-out party and PR push helped garner comprehensive local print and broadcast coverage. Beyond the local market, Hotel 43 appeared in regional and national magazines—one of which generated more than a half-million impressions at a comparative cost of $300,000 in advertising. 

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  • The new owners of a downtown hotel property contacted us to develop a brand strategy to maximize what they saw as enormous untapped potential. The property, the Statehouse Inn, was old and tired—a hotel that was often used by public employees on a per-diem basis, here in Boise on state business.

    Each of the investors in the new ownership group had ideas for revitalizing the property, but they lacked a unified vision of the hotel’s brand and the target audience clientele they wanted to serve. 

    We began by working collaboratively with the ownership group to uncover a vision—and competitive position—for a premier, boutique hotel where guests would receive a unique experience of Idaho’s capital city in an atmosphere of high-end style.

     
    It All Starts with Story

    We developed a brand platform that started with a backstory and was extended by shaping a distinctive personality supported by clear values, purpose, and messaging. Then it was time to create a name that crystallized this strategy.

    Using the brand as our guide, we launched into a naming process that yielded more than 300 prospective names. After further consideration and assessment of availability and conflict, we narrowed the candidates to five, with a clear favorite: a name that enabled the hotel to claim ownership of “prime”: a prime location, a prime number, and all the advantage this created in the competitive lodging landscape.

     
    Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

    We presented the names, with a strong recommendation for “Hotel 43.” The name was chosen for being distinctive and evocative of a sense of place for the brand: Boise is on the 43rd latitude, Idaho entered the union as the 43rd state, and the number itself—prime—speaks to a singular experience divisible only by itself.

    The next step was to give visual voice to the name and create a mark as the signature expression of the brand. The designers worked to design an identity that incorporated the elements of the name and reflected the hotel’s timeless, upscale personality. During the design process, much of the work referenced elements of latitude and longitude, but in the end the design team arrived at a logo that is simple and elegant. 

     
    It’s New. It’s Swank. And You’re Invited.

    Next, we planned an integrated, comprehensive media and public relations campaign to cover the primary target market of the Northwest. We conducted a pre-opening media tour prior to the grand opening, which created news articles and generated word-of-mouth buzz. We then planned and implemented a grand opening to exude the hotel’s brand, with a performance by international jazz star Curtis Stigers and white-jacketed waiters serving champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

    The swank coming-out party and attendant PR push helped spark in-depth coverage by all three local network affiliates, as well as the state’s leading newspaper, the Idaho Statesman.

     
    The Sun Rises with Sunset

    Beyond the local market, PR hits included consumer outlets ranging from Sunset Magazine, Northwest Palette, and Seattle Magazine to in-flight publications Hemispheres Magazine and Sky West Magazine. The all-important event and meeting planner market took great notice, as we landed placements in Meetings West, Northwest Meetings & Events, and Successful Meetings magazines.

    Sunset Magazine included Hotel 43 in an article as a “Top 10 City Hotel in the West,” and our earned media effort generated more than a half-million impressions at a comparative ad cost of $300,000 in value.

     
    A Passport for Place-Based Success

    Since opening, we have created a number of place-based marketing tools to promote the hotel.

    With the help of a local confectionary, we developed a signature chocolate for the hotel with a hint of native Idaho huckleberry.

    Our award-winning media kit used reconditioned cigar boxes with branded hotel merchandise to pique the press’s interest—to great results. We helped the hotel develop and promote a sustainability initiative for its recycling and repurposing of soaps, which created another leg of the Hotel 43 story that was covered by National Public Radio.

    And since one of the hotel’s brand pillars supports the arts, we dreamed up an “arts passport,” proprietary to Hotel 43, that enables its guests to attend museums and performances at no charge. We came up with the idea, forged partnerships with local arts institutions, and negotiated agreement for participation. We created a printed document echoing the design of an official passport, which was handed to guests at check-in. We then used this one-of-a-kind hotel benefit to gain rousing applause from the press.

     
    Read more on boutique hotel branding design in our blog post, Hotel Branding Celebrates Art of Location and Place.

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