Tuesday, June 14, 2005

You may think that the whole thing is silly

As occasionally mentioned, I do graphic design work for a local advertising distributor. One of the most irritating things about the job is trying to extract suitably high-quality artwork out of clients; the sales managers, while trying their best to understand the repeated memos and guides I've sent around, simply aren't often able to bring themselves to browbeat clients into providing decent material to work with. I've managed to get them to understand that scanned business cards are unacceptable for clients' logos - vector art is best, but failing that, high-resolution raster images will do - but beyond that, I still have to badger them on a regular basis. Now, when I need the logo of a product or service the clients are advertising, beyond their own corporate identity, Brands of the World is usually quite helpful for vector versions, but not always. Last week I needed the logo for Australian Gold Tanning Lotion for a tanning salon who'd ignored my requests to provide the artwork themselves, but demanded its presence in the final product. Stymied by my usual source, I turned to others, to no avail. (Eventually I just Photoshopped a tiny .gif version of Australian Gold's logo out of a sign in their online store.) However, what I did find on one of the lesser sites, La Logotheque, was quite interesting. The sloppy search engine turned up "Golden Arch Hotels" in a search for "Australian Gold," with a very familiar-seeming logo: At first I thought it must be some kind of joke or concept art by an imaginative freelancer, but it's not: Unbeknownst to me, McDonald's does, in fact, operate a chain of hotels in Europe. (Albeit a small one.) ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - The brochure for the world's first McDonald's hotel was unabashed in its enthusiasm. Staying at the Golden Arch Hotel was "a pleasure as inviting as a big plate of French fries." I immediately imagined a tacky hotel room impregnated with that unmistakable deep-fry odour. It wasn't my idea of a restful night away from home. Then again, I'm not a snob and decided to try it out. Even branding-happy admen are unenthusiastic: It seems McDonalds is playing a risk-minimization game with this new sub brand – the Golden Arches name being familiar, but distinct enough from the masterbrand to insulate it from any negative incidents, or indeed failure. Certainly consistency is a relevant attribute to bring to a hospitality business, but is it unique and compelling? Numerous other branded hotel chains have provided consistency worldwide, at all levels of the hotel five star rating system. Only time will tell whether there is space for another three star hotel offer. And only time will tell whether the world wants or needs a McHotel. I, despite my brandist leanings, am happy to describe it as a “once in a lifetime” experience. Huh. McDonald's Hotels. You learn something new every day, no?

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