Identity Creation in China: Realizing Strategy through Design
Since opening its doors in 1978, China has transformed into one of the world’s largest and most advanced economies. Most recently the shift to a consumer-based economy, a rising middle class, and greater accessibility through digital have taken the center stage. These are positive advancements for automobile, hospitality and lifestyle brands alike. Consumers are becoming continuously more sophisticated and many have yet to adopt a preferred brand. Quality of life rises alongside the volume and breadth of foreign brands in the market.
China’s distinctive characteristics and unique white spaces make it fertile soil for innovation that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. The successful learnings return to HQ with insights that can help inform global strategy.
Identity Creation is one such method for creating brand innovations in China. Here we will look into the Identity Creation of Joyview, a new concept under the Club Med hospitality group.
Intro to Club Med Joyview
Club Med approached Labbrand to help develop their portfolio in China – including an option adaptive to the agile market cycle and resilient to competition in the local hospitality industry. The Identity Creation had to be culturally relevant, with features specific to the Chinese consumer.
Throughout the Identity Creation journey, Club Med Joyview evolved from a concept on paper into a holistic hospitality offering, giving Chinese urban travelers a chance to experience premium short holidays in China and giving discerning local consumers a natural escape with a unique French touch. Everything from the Supergraphic to the flavored sea salt merchandise was generated through the Identity Creation process.
What is Identity Creation?
Like many other forms of brand consulting, Identity Creation is at its core problem solving. Macro-economic trends, business objectives, the brand context, as well as the ease of implementation must be holistically analyzed to define the most strategically sound space for design creation.
The methodology begins with a Brand Idea, followed by the Chinese and English Name Creation, the Brand Signature, and the Visual Language: a visual expression of the brand. This process includes a “Supergraphic”, which is used as the foundation for development of other visual elements along the guest experience journey.
A visual language is a system of communication using visual elements. The visual language presents a distinctive point of view through the expression of colour, imagery, typography, graphic elements, and composition. All elements in the system should be designed with intention and precision, reflecting the brand strategy and working together to communicate a holistic brand identity.
In the hospitality industry there are many capacities where Visual Language can be applied, including front and back of house applications, restaurant identities, merchandising and wayfinding. This article will discuss three in relation to Club Med Joyview.
The end result of the Identity Creation for Club Med Joyview is an innovation that epitomizes the concept across a series of touchpoints, from key cards to restaurant menus to resort memorabilia – a collection that delivers on the brand promise of “Bonding in Nature with Loved Ones”.
Identity Creation: The Supergraphic
To begin the visual language process, our team organized the concept into one key expression revolving around connection and conviviality.
The “Stones of Luminous Light” were inspired by Joyview’s verbal identity and drawn from scratch, stone by stone, to craft a holistic ecosystem and distinctly memorable iconography. Apart from being born in nature, a sense of freeness was communicated in the tossing movement of the stones, creating a dynamic composition that can be arranged and rearranged. The stones also denote a curation of different destinations as travellers would collect pebbles from their most special remembrances.
The original Supergraphic combines the watercolor effect of hand-crafted brush strokes and translucent application of color to the nature-inspired rocks, presenting an ethereal, timeless quality with a degree of elegance. From there, we expanded the Stones to include several different styles and pattern expressions that could be used across any touchpoint.
Front of House Applications
The visual assets created can then be deployed into the Front of House (FOH), or guest-facing communications. The Identity Creation approach explores key touchpoints along the customer experience journey, beginning with the arrival, in-room amenities, and resort facilities.
This allows for a fresh take on resort application design.
One method of realizing the Supergraphic is integrating the patterns onto materials and surface textures, such as the interior design. Applying the terrain pattern of the Supergraphic onto soft furnishings and textiles gives a gentle reminder towards nature and bonding that can be recognized across the resort.
Another method of integration considers not only the surface aesthetics, but also includes the selection of materials, form factors, and messaging style.
Through this process of Identity Creation, we created a system of visual assets and manifested it through touchpoints around the property, resulting in tangible branding actions. The customer journey becomes a seamless expression of immersion into the concept.
Restaurant Identity Application
Crafting a successful Food & Beverage program is key to the overall customer experience. A strong culinary concept is comprised of four main pillars:
- Connection with the umbrella concept
- Relevance to F&B industry trends
- Operational feasibility
- Geo-specific significance
We created five distinct restaurant and bar identities in line with these four pillars. One such identity was a premium seafood dining experience.
The connection with Joyview’s overall concept is clear through the signature design expression, which leverages the Supergraphic’s Parallel Venetian form to instill thoughts of a journey by the sea.
From an industry perspective, we sought to answer the question of how to define premium in the modern age and in relation to the geographic location, a classification that is not so much about fine-dining or luxury as it is about quality of food sourcing and preparation, service culture, and attention to detail.
A place like Qinghuangdao, for instance, celebrates seafood as their main delicacy. Offering this restaurant at a Joyview location here complements the operational strengths and helps the resort become more geographically relevant.
A well-crafted bar and restaurant concept can enable continuity in the customer experience, extending Club Med Joyview’s identity and further harmonizing the customer journey.
Product Merchandising Application
Hospitality gift shops possess great opportunities and are in the ideal position to reach consumers. Resort guests are open to purchase during their stay; picking up a souvenir while on vacation for themselves or someone back at home is a time-honored tradition.
Labbrand was invited to join in the ideation for the retail merchandising program and product concept development. Our work included a signature collection celebrating a portfolio of unique destinations, as well as an inspiring lifestyle collection that integrates the themes of nature into daily lifestyle items.
Together, these collections provide guests with recreational engagement during their free time away from activities, replenishment of travel items, and daily sundries. It becomes an integral part of the trip, further enriching the comprehensive experience of lasting memories that can be shared amongst loved ones.
Through Identity Creation, Club Med Joyview evolved into a distinctive hospitality model that seeks to capitalize on the opportunity space to present a branded experience designed for the local consumer. As urbanization continues, accessibility to relaxation becomes more important to reinvigorate consumers from the monotony of city life. With each destination, Club Med Joyview celebrates geo-specific individualities and the authentic nature that surrounds them.
Strategic thinking around localization is changing. Creating distinctive concepts, products, or experiences for the local consumer is paramount to create brand loyalists. The effects of success extend beyond China, as creations inside an agile and highly competitive market can offer insights for the global brand strategy.
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