When travelling to a new city, whether for work or leisure, choosing a hotel is usually first on your list, but with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult for one to stand out from the crowd. How can a new hotel succeed in a highly competitive hospitality market? This was the challenge facing the University of Calgary when building the first on-campus hotel in Canada, Hotel Alma.
The building was designed by Toronto’s Baird Sampson Neuert Architects and Calgary based architect’s Riddell Kurczaba with a modern European feel in mind. However, once construction started, the property didn’t have a name or a defining brand. That’s where the team of branding and communications experts at Calgary’s Frank Design Strategy came in. Their goal was to create a fresh, distinctive brand that would make the property instantly recognizable and differentiate it from competitors. This strategy started with the hotel’s name and was diffused to all areas where consumers would interact with the brand.
The name, Hotel Alma, was evolved from the collegiate term “alma mater” which served to link the hotel to the campus, while also positioning it as a welcoming and familiar place for guests. To make Hotel Alma approachable, the Frank Design team developed the brand as down-to-earth, friendly, and slightly cheeky and “Alma” was evolved into a character to voice these traits. In room messages included: “Wake up with Alma” a guide on how to use the room’s coffee maker, or “Psst Alma, It’s Messy in Here” as a way to notify hotel staff when the room needed cleaning.
To match the eclectic and offbeat style of Hotel Alma, Frank Design incorporated the University’s colors into a distinct circular pattern that reflects European mod-style design. This design and color scheme is featured on all branded materials and throughout the hotel’s interior spaces on signage, guest materials, and décor. To ensure a cohesive brand experience, it was also important for Frank Design to incorporate this pattern onto the building’s exterior spaces. This was done using decorative glass signage at the hotel’s main entrance. Created by Goldray Glass, the signage features both the Hotel Alma logo and the distinctive trademark pattern.
To achieve this, Goldray Glass worked with the project’s design team to develop the design. The graphic design was then printed onto a high-resolution technographic film interlayer before being laminated between glass. This process allowed us to achieve the bright colors of Hotel Alma’s logo and distinctive pattern, while also ensuring the signage is durable enough to withstand the elements.
The hotel’s strong brand image is evident with both the “Alma” brand voice and numerous brand touch-points that guests come in contact with during their stay. Immediately after opening in 2009, Hotel Alma leapt to number 5 on Trip Advisor in Calgary and was embraced as a top destination to stay or meet on the University of Calgary campus. Goldray Glass was thrilled to have been a part of bringing the Hotel Alma brand to life and many other projects aimed at making buildings beautiful. For more design inspiration, please join us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter where we regularly post project pictures and case studies as we build our community of industry professionals. If you’d like to work with a member of our team, please call us at 1-800-640-3709 or email us at email@example.com and we’d be more than happy to assist you with your next design.