In 1930, a man by the name of Albert Steigenberger found himself in a predicament. He supplied fresh linens to local hotels in Germany, and one of his clients was about to default. They hadn’t paid their bills, and it looked like they weren’t even going to return his linens.
In a savvy gambit to recover his lost property, Mr Steigenberger did what any reasonable businessman would do. He bought the hotel.
As it turns out, our accidental hotelier had a natural gift for hospitality. The property thrived under his leadership and became the first of many Steigenberger Hotels. A legendary brand was in the making.
Flash forward almost 90 years, and Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts has become a household name in the German-speaking world. When their parent company, Deutsche Hospitality, approached QUO to help re-launch its flagship brand, we were ecstatic – to say the least. We know a once-in-a-century opportunity when we see one.
Reinventing a Legend
In the months leading up to ITB Berlin 2019, we worked hand-in-hand with the Deutsche Hospitality team to modernise the Steigenberger brand and prepare it for prime time. To say we’re proud of the final product is a massive understatement.
It all began with an in-depth workshop with QUO’s strategy team. Steigenberger was already a well-respected and successful brand in the German-speaking DACH region. The goal was to modernise the classic German luxury hotel brand to demonstrate a more compelling brand positioning as it moves into new segments and territories. We set out to create a brand with its feet on the ground, and its eyes to the future.
We articulated a new brand essence for Steigenberger: ‘Storied traditions curating contemporary culture’. Now it was time to bring that essence to life in a modern retelling of ‘Gastfreundschaft’ (that’s German for ‘hospitality’).
A Modern Interpretation of ‘Gastfreundschaft’
With the new brand culture in place, QUO’s design team put its imagination to work. Our Creative Director, Pierre Vermeir, wanted to position the brand as fully modern, but he recognised how important it was not to alienate the brand heritage. To that end, he updated the logo with a new serif font that’s elegant and modern, but still maintains its classic feel. The rectangular box that previously bound the logo was removed – signalling the brand’s new, unbound positioning. Steigenberger was ready to expand.
A new colour palette was in order, because ‘Gastfreundschaft’ is not a black-and-white affair. Dark brown was selected as the primary colour for its subtle distinction. This was supported with a swathe of secondary and tertiary colours – soft complementary pastels that would pair beautifully with the brand’s new photography guidelines (see below).
A Voice for the Ages
Steigenberger needed a new way of speaking to match its new look. QUO’s content team drafted a calm, authoritative and warm tone of voice for the rekindled brand. It’s fully rooted in the present moment, mindful of Steigenberger’s origins and inspired by its future potential. The new brand voice has a fondness for contrast and light wordplay. It trades in mirrored concepts, layered meaning and juxtapositions.
There’s a glimmer of wonder in the new Steigenberger brand voice. It often speaks in short, lightly poetic phrases – bite-sized meditations that are palatably profound and worth repeating. These may appear on luggage tags, key cards and other collectable collateral, enriching the guest journey.
Framing the World as Steigenberger Sees It
The new brand would use more than words to communicate. Pierre followed up by creating a new and refreshed set of photography guidelines for the brand. These began with prescriptions for portraits that would showcase the warmth and passion of the Steigenberger staff. A warm grey backdrop lends a sense of modernity and highlights the model’s actions in each portrait. Closely cropped product photos communicate a sense of modernity, while a soft colour palette calms and soothes.
Pierre then travelled to Frankfurt to oversee the brand’s first photo shoot using the new guidelines. He was accompanied by QUO Content Director Derek Kirk, who interviewed staff for Steigenberger’s new brand book and magazine.
Collateral and Advertising
Bringing the Legend to Life
With Steigenberger’s new identity fully articulated, it was time to give physical form to these ideas. We designed a full suite of collateral for the brand, including collectable sets of luggage tags that showcased the new brand voice in lightly philosophical quips that seek out tension between past and future. QUO also drew up advertising guidelines to put the portraits and product shots from the photo shoot to good use.
Next up was the brand book, meant to introduce staff and stakeholders to the new brand. At the same time, we also drafted a consumer-facing magazine that would broadcast the brand relaunch to the world. The magazine was on hand at the brand’s re-launch event at ITB Berlin 2019.
Today, Steigenberger view themselves as ‘hoteliers with passion’ – a quality they learned from Albert Steigenberger’s example. Almost 90 years ago, passion drove him to rescue and rehabilitate his first hotel. Today, that same passion continues to drive the successes of this iconic brand – even as the organisation evolves and expands. And we believe that passion is more apparent and accessible than ever in Steigenberger’s refreshed brand image.