When a word is worth $50,000

A global hotel chain uses brand language to protect a multi-million dollar brand redesign

Chinese Whispers is a fun game when you’re a child. But it can quickly become a nightmare when you’re the person responsible for leading the global implementation of a new brand.

The Senior VP, Marketing, of an America-based, global hotel chain had worked with his team for 10 months to completely reimagine their brand: they would be changing everything from the architecture to the soap.

We were asked how language could capture the very valuable IP they’d developed, so that the new brand would be delivered consistently with no wasted time or money.

Every word matters

For any company, the majority of its intellectual property is defined verbally. But for this hotel group it was clearly a crucial moment in the brand’s development. We identified the large number of multiple partners operating in different languages and working across a long development time frame that would be involved. It became clear that simplicity not complexity was key.

However, with a simple document, each and every word plays a significant role. (In this case, each word was carrying the burden of $50,000 on its back.)


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Check the accuracy of your words just as much as you check the accuracy of your numbers

Verbal Identity worked closely with the SVP and his Marketing Board in creating a jargon-free, simple document of 4 pages, with just 250 words, that captured their intent, the motivations of their new customers and their new vision. The sticking point, however, was which 3 words would best describe their brand values. There was much dispute in the room.

We used our experience in corpus linguistics – a science that identifies how particular words or phrases are used in real life – and were able to guide the team to unanimous (and comfortable) agreement on the final piece of the new brand.


The redevelopment is now being delivered on time and on budget, all around the world.