Design > Brand-building



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The Prince Hotel Group, the experts in Japanese luxury and service, have been operating in Japan since 1964. And when they became part of Staywell Hospitality Group, they saw the opportunity to introduce their unique style of hospitality to the rest of the world. To help them do that, they came to us.

These new, 5-star hotels were created to be truly international. So the brand needed to be a fusion of cultures – reflecting the best of Japan, but also be a brand that felt at home no matter what city it’s in.

So, we had to build a brand from the ground up— from the name, strategy, brand identity, design system, and voice—to reflect Japan’s unique service, sophistication, and mindfulness in everyday life. And of course, it had to embody luxury and create a sense of sanctuary for guests looking to escape the frenetic pace of modern life.

Describe the creative idea

We set out to create a brand aimed at high-end travellers who are not only looking to relax, but also to enrich themselves. They’re looking to escape the chaos of modern life and reward their physical, mental and emotional selves. So, we needed to design an experience where mindfulness and tranquillity were included at every touchpoint.

We journeyed to Japan to learn from its customs, art and traditions. That’s how we developed our driving brand idea: Poetry at Dawn. It captures the colours and language that bring the experience to life; the sights and smells that intrigue our senses, and the moments that leave us calm, rejuvenated, and better than when we first checked in.

The name Akatoki, our design system, and the artists we collaborated with all had to embody the feeling of optimism, vitality and possibility that come with the start of a new day.

Describe the execution

Every element of The Prince Akatoki brand embodies the idea of Poetry at Dawn.

Our name tells a story with just one word – Akatoki is an ancient Japanese word for ‘dawn’. With a nod to Japanese tradition, it embodies the tranquillity and vitality that we want our guests to feel each morning.

Our design system is based on a modern interpretation of Japanese fusuma panels. These sliding doors—often beautifully painted—open up to transform a space. They give our design structure, and a clean, simple layout, and provide an ever-changing container for graphic elements. But most of all, they open up to represent new possibilities.

The logo depicts the rising sun, and our brand colours were picked from a palette inspired by a morning sky. We collaborated with illustrators, haiku masters and artists to embody the optimism of dawn—inviting guests to wake up to a new beginning.

List the results

The new Prince Akatoki brand gives the Prince Hotel Group the opportunity to take their business further than they ever have before. We created a brand that highlights Japanese hospitality as a point of difference, made it an international fusion, and let the Prince own a story that is uniquely theirs.

Since sending out our brand books—specially created books that told the brand’s story to potential investors—two Prince Akatoki hotels have been bought. Currently under development, one is replacing the Arch Hotel in London, and another is being built in Guangzhou.

In the future, The Prince Akatoki plans to build 25 new hotels with at least 300 rooms in major gateway cities—such as Sydney, Paris, and New York. And the brand was debuted to the world with an article in the Australian Financial Review on March 13th 2019.

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