In order to showcase their nation’s uniquely sophisticated hospitality, Prince Hotels gave Interbrand the task of developing a name, visual identity, and design system that reflected a modern take on Japanese tradition – culminating in London’s new Prince Akatoki Hotel.
Starting with a strategy that spoke to a unique brand proposition — to exemplify Japan’s unique sophistication and hospitality to the world — we were tasked with developing a name, visual identity, and design system that reflects our modern take on Japanese tradition.
The brief was a blank sheet of paper – the strategy recommendations came up with the brief for a Japanese concept that highlighted the beauty and philosophy of Japanese hospitality, not in a cliched way, but authentic and welcoming.
Execution and Results
The brief was won by a Sydney based agency because this was a concept that was to show case the best of Japan to non-Japanese travellers. In other words, a hotel created by the Japanese, not for Japanese travellers. It’s quite a coup for a Sydney based agency to give client the confidence to develop a authentic Japanese hotel brand and experience.
The work extended from brand architecture, brand strategy definition and through to service design, interior design. Even the sounds and aromatics of the customer experience were considered.
And any hotel’s success lies in the experience. So we went beyond just the concept. Japan has no shortage of inspiration. To find what we needed to share with the world, we travelled across the country. We watched the sun rise over big cities and Mount Fuji, met artisans, experts and craftspeople, and experienced deep-rooted traditions blended with dazzling modernity.
Based on our time in Japan, shadowing the staff and learning about their unique style of hospitality from the heart, we developed a customer experience handbook for The Prince Akatoki team. We made interior design guidelines that embeds the brand’s principles into every built space. And we worked with illustrators, haiku masters, and craftspeople to create unique pieces of art.
The name Akatoki comes from an ancient Japanese word for dawn. It captures the optimism and positivity for the day ahead. As the sun comes up each morning, guests at The Prince Akatoki will wake up relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready for the possibilities of the day ahead. We call this feeling Poetry at Dawn. It is the idea that drives every detail in the brand experience; from the logo, an identity inspired by the colours of sunrise, to a guest experience that emphasises the best ways to start your day.
The Prince Akatoki design system is a modern interpretation of traditional Japanese fusuma panels. These sliding doors can open or close to redefine the purpose of a room, or they can create intriguing patterns and layers. It is an endlessly flexible system that creates structure for text, acts as a container for imagery, comes alive in motion, and physically divides spaces throughout the hotel.
A hotel is bought to life through its experience. Walk inside The Prince Akatoki and discover a space that can belong to any city in the world, merged with an unmistakably Japanese influence. And because our CX handbook has mapped every detail across the customer journey, guests will have a stay to remember. With a focus on how to wake up feeling relaxed and renewed, our signature moments demonstrate exactly how Japanese hospitality goes above and beyond.
The very first hotel debuted in London in September 2019, followed by a newly built property in Guangzhou, Southern China. And there are plans to expand to 25 cities around the world.
The new hotel has picked up several awards and accolades in the last year, including:
• Travellers Choice 2019 Winner (Tripadvisor)
• Platinum award for Interior Design (OPAL)
• A four-star rating and luxury verification (Forbes Travel Guide)
• Winner (Luxury Lifestyle Awards)
• Best Newcomer (Conde Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence)
• Ranked 1st for best reviewed brand identity of 2019 (Underconsideration)
• Honourable Mention: Design, Brand Identity (Creative Review: The Annual 2019)