What The Ritz Carlton And Joshie The Stuffed Giraffe Taught Me About A Logo And A Brand

We returned from a recent convention in Las Vegas, and there in between the evenings of debauchery (not really…but really) we learned quite a few things and one very critical and important lesson; the difference between a logo, and a brand.

Scott Stratten is the author of several books.  By the way, if you ever get the opportunity to hear Mr. Stratten in person, I would highly suggest you go–it could be the best hour you ever spend…two if you’re lucky.

Yet despite all of my adoring accolades, he will most likely go down in history as the guy who came up with THIS gem:


Yep.  One day (when alcohol may or may not have been involved) in a galaxy far, far away, this dude came up with that.  Admit it–you’ve clicked on it too, right?

…we thought so.

You’ll probably do it again, as millions and millions have.  True story–they have.

Now I digress; Mr. Stratten, who is as immensely entertaining as he is energetically informative, brought up the topic of a brand versus a logo.

Anyhow, he pretty much wound himself up into a frenzy speaking about the Ritz Carlton logo and how perhaps there were countless hours spent, by people who make entirely too much money, upon the topic of the confounded lion on their crest.  If the lion should be used?  Why not another member of the feline family like a cheeta, a lynx, a tiger or even the rare sunda cloud leopard?  Should the lion look to the left, or to the right, and what about facing you directly?  Too intimidating, as you appear to be its lunch?  How about the tongue?  In or out?  Should we now change it because of the recent Miley Cyrus fallout?  etc, etc, ad naseum…

Ritz logo

Well let’s face it.  It wouldn’t be so dang funny IF it wasn’t true, and therein Mr Stratten laid the foundation for his words of wisdom last week–it is a logo.  It isn’t magical.  No one ever looks at it and suddenly books a room because they have an affinity towards large carnivorous cats or tiaras.  It is what the public uses to tie your BRAND to the organization, and it is just that; a logo.  The brand is something entirely different…

Cue Joshie the Giraffe.

Basically without stealing any thunder, while on vacation at a Ritz Carlton location, a family had lost their son’s beloved stuffed “pet” giraffe on a vacation.  It got wound up in the bedding and wasn’t missed until the family returned home.  The forlorn and inconsolable son was lost without it and before anyone could formulate a call to action, the staff at the Ritz Carlton was already five steps ahead of them…

Here is the story:  JOSHIE THE GIRAFFE

I’m only assuming each of you as is curious as I am, and that you’ve all clicked on the story and are now caught up, right?

…Back to what we learned from Mr. Stratten.

Trust me, as a former television producer, you just can’t pay for stories like this.  There is no advertising that offers this reach and depth.  There is no ‘value added’ tier level for this package.  This is simply “priceless.”

Now what did that have to do with some agency and upper management literally spending hours upon hours upon hours over the image of a lion on a crest?  Not one damn thing.

However what is the company’s “brand?”  The lion and the crest, or this level of service?

Because of an alert and innovative staff (who also may or many not have consumed far too much alcohol upon successfully finding Joshie following a bit of search and rescue) what comes to your mind after reading or hearing about that story?  What does that lion logo mean to you now?

…it means far more than a cool lion who apparently likes sticking it’s tongue out during a VMA performance.

I know the owner of this company.  I know his brothers.  I know his management staff.  I know everyone on the front lines and how dedicated they personally are to this same level of service.  It is why we have an arm in our parent company logo.  Not a cat, a family crest, or even a hippo, but it is an arm…and ‘yes’ there is a story behind it, but that isn’t as important as what our “giraffes” are.

Last week we discovered that an arm isn’t enough.  The brand of who we are is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.  It is with everyone you speak with.  It is with the personal follow up our staff gives when our clients make an order.  It should be apparent when you buy lockers or anything else from us.

The experience you walk away with; that is the brand…the arm and the lockers just shows you where to find it.

…Much to the dismay of Mr. Stratten, I’ve just saved you several hundred dollars in speaker fees.  Now go and do something with it.  🙂


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