The 3R Principle for successful hotel brand design

Have you ever wondered why some hotel brands just ‘click’ while others don’t? Move beyond fleeting design trends. In the dynamic world of hospitality, creating a memorable brand design is not just about aesthetics; it's about embedding your brand into the hearts and minds of your guests. Success in hotel brand design hinges on three critical aspects:

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This is Motiva’s 3R Principle—a blueprint for design excellence.

Let’s unpack the components.

The Motiva 3R Principle

Recognizability: crafting a distinctive identity

Brand designs are often chosen for being trendy, appealing to the subjective tastes of decision-makers, or perceived as ‘safe’. However, mere attractiveness is insufficient for impacting performance and adding to your bottom line. Effective brand design captivates and secures a spot on your target audience’s radar.

How can you achieve this? Dare to be bold, yet be guided by insightful consumer research. Instead of blending in with a “more of the same” approach by following current mainstream trends, allow your brand to stand out. Capturing attention is the first victory in winning over your audience: Our brains are wired to notice everything that defies the ordinary and to process these unusual discoveries in more detail. This extra attention ensures your brand is recognized the next time any other communication from your brand is seen, and over time, it gets memorized. Brand recall is an essential aspect of consumer behavior that keeps your hotel brand top-of-mind during booking decisions.

Of course, for a brand to be successful, its design must not only vie for attention but also genuinely reflect its unique personality that resonates with its audience.

Resonance: connecting on an emotional level

Creating an emotional connection with your audience isn’t just a goal—it’s imperative. Why are emotions, and not just rational arguments, so crucial for a brand? Behavioral Economics provides the answer. Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman has shown that, contrary to previous beliefs about economically rational actors, most decisions are made unconsciously and spontaneously. People operate using two systems of thinking: the autopilot (System 1) and the pilot (System 2). The pilot is our slow, deliberate, and logical thinking system that processes facts and requires conscious effort to analyze information and draw conclusions. In contrast, the autopilot is our fast, intuitive, and emotional thinking system. It operates largely automatically, unconsciously, and with little or no effort, influenced by images, feelings, stories, and colors. This system is responsible for first impressions and spontaneous decisions.

Colors, typefaces, and images carry subconscious meanings learned throughout our lives. By strategically choosing these visual signals, you can stimulate the autopilot system and trigger instant emotional responses that bypass logic and influence decisions.

Use visual signals that mirror the aspirations, needs, and dreams of your guests. Each design element should narrate a part of your brand’s story, creating a mosaic of experiences that feels deeply personal to your guests. Resonance elevates your brand from being a mere option to a preferred choice, becoming an integral part of your guests’ lives.

Robustness: ensuring longevity and flexibility

Robustness in brand design means a balance between versatility and consistency. In the hospitality industry, your brand design must be versatile enough to adapt gracefully to various moods, emotions, and experiences. For a hotel group that operates in diverse locations, your brand design must fit to various environments, feeling just as appropriate on a seaside escape as it does in a mountain retreat. Similarly, a family hotel’s brand design needs to reflect both the whirlwind of children’s laughter and the quietude of adult relaxation. Seasonal adaptations, from snowy winter atmospheres to hot summer promotions, must also be considered.

Yet, your brand design should remain consistent and operate seamlessly across all touchpoints throughout the guest journey, from digital platforms to physical interactions: from the glossy page of a full-page magazine ad to the constraints of an online display ad, from the website's homepage to the booking engine, from pre-arrival emails to key card holders, from signage and orientation systems to the spa menu.

Another aspect of robustness is its longevity over time. By crafting a design independent of fleeting trends, you ensure its durability. Visual identities built on current fads will soon feel outdated and require costly revamps. In contrast, truly original brand designs will stand the test of time. Having enough built-in flexibility and scalability allows your brand to grow and evolve alongside your audience and industry shifts, while its core identity remains steadfast.

The 3R principle in action – an example

Our work for Familux Resorts—the pioneer in the family-exclusive premium hotel market—demonstrates the power of this design approach. By adhering to the 3R Principle, we’ve crafted a cohesive experience that resonates with every family member. Its versatility allows for a wide range of touchpoints and emotions: from the whimsical details in the kids’ area to the sophisticated settings of a wine tasting, the essence of Familux Resorts is not just vivid but palpable. A characteristic color scheme and a unique illustration style independent of current trends enhance the brand’s recognizability and robustness. This systematic approach has yielded measurable results: surveys among guests underscore not only Familux Resorts’ brand strength but also the recognizability of the design and the alignment between the design and the actual experience the brand provides.

Implementing the 3R Principle

By embracing the 3R Principle of recognizability, resonance, and robustness in your hotel’s visual identity, you maximize what design can do for your brand. By applying it consistently, you ensure that every touchpoint is used as an opportunity to reinforce the emotional bond with your guests.

Of course, implementing this principle requires not only creativity but also a deep understanding of your target market. A solid brand strategy translates your audience insights into a unique brand personality that forms the foundation for the design. In doing so, your brand design realizes its full potential and helps to build enduring brand equity.

Curious to learn about our expertise in hospitality branding and how to utilize insights from behavioral economics to create successful brands?
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