Since I started writing this column 12 months ago I've covered a smorgasbord of dos and don'ts, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of living brands. But I've never really addressed the issue of what a "living brand" really is.
I was prompted to tackle this meaty issue 12 months after it was probably due thanks to a recent trip to Phuket. Over the last seven years I've travelled regularly to the island and have always enjoyed it, usually staying in one of the island's numerous beautiful resorts, yet I've always come away with the feeling of "but". Late last month I finally nailed what the "but" was: far too many resort brands on Phuket don't live. They recline. They chill. They put their feet up in hammocks. They are all having a bit of an afternoon nap. Boring, dull and downright unimaginative. Far from being living brands, they are seaside snooze-fests. What's missing is a rhythm, a pulse: anything that can shift the heartbeat above its restive state.
Before we dig further into the causes and problems with this tropical somnambulance, let's take a little stroll to the origins of hospitality. If one peers into the coaching inns of 18th-century Europe _ for example, the centrepiece of these establishments were their social hubs: the bar and the restaurant. All manner of unmentionable debauchery took place, but they were essentially meeting places for people to talk, engage, laugh together and be entertained. The guestroom was almost an afterthought, a place to rest your weary head after the mayhem and frolicking from down below. In short, the inns were vibrant hubs of human connectivity. As Abraham Maslow informed us, we like a sense of belonging and social connectivity, and through that connectivity comes inspiration and greater fulfilment.
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