Moving businesses & brands forward - the Savoy Signature case study

by Ana Costa Dias
New  —  15-01-20
Savoy Signature Hotels is one branding case study that shows how a finely executed Brand Audit can help business leaders to know more about their brands and to make them stand out in the market.

The Savoy Signature Project
Uncovering the distinctiveness and uniqueness of a random brand portfolio and make it experiential and meaningful.

Created in 1980 in Madeira, Portugal, AFA Group consolidated as a leading player in the construction and engineering sector. The energy and ambition to push the business forward and the unique touristic potential of the Madeira region inspired the Group to expand its expertise to the hospitality sector.

Calheta Beach Hotel (2004) was the first concept to be built and Saccharum, the second, was launched nine years later, in 2015. In this same year, the Group acquired an iconic hotel in Madeira, The Savoy, all along with Savoy Gardens unit and the Savoy Palace project (a concept developed under the AFA Group ownership, with a soft-opening in 2019). The ambition to position the Group as an expert player in the hospitality market (regionally and internationally), and to create a strongly attractive and diversified portfolio, asked for urgent thinking about the existing portfolio of concepts&brands.

Being a sum-up of autonomous, unrelated and quite undifferentiated hotels, the portfolio lacked both a singular, unifying brand concept with an overarching proposition, as well as differentiated vertical brands, each one owning a specific value proposition, to resonate to specific client segments and address specific motivations. A need reinforced by the fact of being a regional portfolio, all units operating in the same touristic destination. Redefining each hotel concept to enhance intra-portfolio differentiation was clearly critical.

The challenge was utterly inspiring and the project scope wide and challenging, both for the client and the Unlock Team.
The first project phase aimed at understanding and scoping the challenge better: the brand and business needs and challenges, the project goals, and the expected outcome. After assessing these, brand auditing was tailored accordingly: which parameters needed to be checked, which stakeholders to involve (internal, external, community…), which tools to use, the development time span, the skills and teams to integrate).

Brand Audit was fundamental to develop the whole brand and communication universe. Internally, with working sessions with top management, we were able to understand the business strategy and goals, the entrepreneurship culture, and the liaison with the destination and its people/local community.

The interaction with staff in different hotel units unveiled both the transversal and differentiated culture traits, the current brand/unit value proposition and potential for evolution, clients´ segments, and motivations. Externally, the community stakeholders' involvement was crucial to dive into the region’s unique features, the existing hospitality offer profile, and the consumers´ motivations to visit and experience Madeira's destination.
In the specific case of Savoy Palace (under development at the time), the interaction with the interior design leading teams was decisive to enhance and amplify the project overall concept: celebrating Madeira´s uniqueness and singularity.

Brand auditing enabled us with a comprehensive understanding and drove us to consistently define the Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Platforms (Brand Concept, Vision, Values, and Personality - Umbrella Brand + Brand Units).

Savoy Signature stands for a unique way of experiencing and living Madeira Island, offering a singular set of different stories and experiences, it is a story based on Madeira's uniqueness and heritage, a story that unfolds more stories.

Calheta Beach, Saccharum, Royal Savoy, Savoy Palace, and Gardens are the distinct and inspiring stories that take the visitor to experience Madeira in an unforgettable way.

See here how Savoy Signature's new brand universe was created.


Ana Costa Dias
Senior Strategist at Unlock Brands