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GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | Seattle

GIRVIN | Strategic Branding & Design | New York

A presentation in London | Professional Spa Conference + Beauty Summit.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of wellness shared — and the communing offering of spa well-making and health generation. Generation, is that the right word — to generate health fullness? Rejuvenation? A return to the making of youth (fullness)? What is spa, anyway? Looking, as I’m wont to do, at etymology, I go back.

spa
medicinal or mineral spring,” 1626, from name of health resort in eastern Belgium, known since 14c., that featured mineral springs believed to have curative properties. The place name is from Walloon espaspring, fountain.”

What about other alignments?

space
c.1300, “an area, extent, expanse, lapse of time,” aphetic of O.Fr. espace, from L. spatium “room, area, distance, stretch of time,” of unknown origin. Astronomical sense of “stellar depths” is first recorded 1667 in “Paradise Lost.”

An alignment?

I doubt it — it’s never in keeping with the concept of spa, to be merely space; the notion of the spa is the epitome of the sensorial and the richness of place experience.

I had a chance to explore the concept of spa, well-being and beauty in a three day event in London — it was about the spa in a kind of holistic examination. I spoke. And there was a connective thread, in the layering of connections, between many of us. Love, really, is an underlining theme.

The brand experience development is very much in keeping with the spirit of loving; and it is about people being loved.

Spa is about love, intimacy, sensuality — and hopefully — a renewed integration between heart, soul and body — propped up, in support of the foundations of value and integration in experience thinking. You can be one — in love with your relationships — something that is shared reflectively, given the attention to the notions of relationship development. And, too, to Kevin Robert’s propositions of love in brand.

But Spa, too, is about storytelling. It came up as a recurrent theme — in the tellings of the presentation(s)…

Presenters said:
• “You’re nothing without a story.”
• “Story is really how the beginning of the business works — that’s where the start-off should be.”
• “How are you going to tell your story? Really, to be different, you’ve got to get that done — people need to know what your story is, otherwise, you’re really just another business.”
• “In this time of adversity, having a story is critical — because our product, the spa itself, is really everywhere. With that kind of ubiquity, it’s important to look for distinction.”

And, truth be told, story is the most memorable connection for people in recalling the nature of the brand. More, here:

Clearly, in the framing of our experience, storytelling has a deep legacy — it’s not really, alone, about the story-telling of spa, but in exploring the concept of the story in multiple frames of branding and community / relationships / communications development. So telling can range from entertainment to product, from retail treatments to hospitality, from restaurants to fashion brands.

And really, the entire proposition is about what your story is, the link to another, and how that telling reflectively expands, in rippling, to multiple communities. So…

For now is the time of substantive change, and exploring and examining the idea of positioning shall really be about the heart of survival. What do you stand for, how do you express it — and emotionally, what is the rhythm of the telling? What story, unfolds, coming from the heart of YOU(r) brand?

If you consider the modeling, the etymology of the brand in fire, then the heart — the hearthplace, the proverbial center of familial warmth, light, mystery and love lies there.

As it has, for thousands of years. Brand+fire+ storytelling:

The mind is a vessel, and memory its containment; the continent of the mind recalls story, above all actualizations of time and place, more robustly than anything else, it is how the mind works and recalls strings of experience.

And there is a component of process — how, sometimes, we tend to focus on operational considerations, and we forget about the heart of the brand in the person(al)ity.

As I tell you a story about me, I can too, learn about you. In sharing these stories, they become reflective. Think Nordstrom. Think Apple. Think Nike. What stories are told — about your personal experiences, that might in fact be layers of vibrating stories, moving out. And moving out…Story has these structures, as well.

Here are some frames, that we use in the considerations of storytelling, and how, and why, these can be relevant in thinking through brand contextualization.

And finally, in the sequence of this exploration — it is, as well, about the concept of truth — finding the authentic heart of who you are. And what that means for you, your culture (and cult) and audience (your tribe).

Consider this framing of hybrid expression — with your human code, the heart of the DNA of the brand in the center, and the story as a sub-bracket to empowered the differentiation of the brand.

Pulling a reference, to the layering of story and experience design, you might consider this modeling, here is a spa experience that’s founded on a site that was worshipped as a place of the Great Mother, thousands of years back, a place of healing for Etruscan and Germanic warriors, and the origination of the goddess Saturn, founded in the mystery of Aurinia:

There is a sheathing transparency, between the concept of the heart of the Goddess, the ancient archetypes of healing and mothering, the beauty of something healthful coming from the center of the earth, and linking timelessness — from the present moment, thousands of years in the past, to the momentum of the present, advancing to the future.

Your story might be like that. It might be based on the proposition of an authentic spiritual link for you, to your telling, something that speaks to you, the heart of your brand — or it might be something that is founded on another premise. There simply must be the resonance between the principle(s), the story, and premise of your position, and the promise of your offering. Whatever, speak true, hold freely to your word, tell freely to your world.

And that telling is surely about the proposition of a more extended form of experience — the place in which your magic, your love, the mystery of your work is offered in healing wholeness.

In the sensing of sequence, how does someone actually learn, and embrace, your story? How does that gathering up occur. From 300 meters? From 100? From 10 meters, the vibration is extended? It’s important to frame the layering of your connections — to your relationship. That relationship is a carrying — it’s bringing someone into the fold, it is a reference, a referral in return. So, when does that start — the story begins further out in the consciousness of your guest than perhaps you surmise…

Think of it in this way.

And then contemplate the nature of your connection, in leadership, to the evolution of this proposition:

When you are looking to realign, to find that again, seek imagination — your dream, and finding the way of the truth in your telling…

That modeling will lead you here — this phrasing will achieve a kind of resonance to the undertaking of the principle of story activation; it’s a link between you, your staff, your guests — and those that you’ve never met, who are merely waiting for your introduction.

That premise of your personal spirit relates to another story — another telling, in gathering the sentiment of sense and spirituality in brand experience. There’s really more of a comprehensive story here. But this telling is about the nature of the spirit of a brand, reaching deeply into the core philosophy of a lifelong exploration. And in this instance, a brand that is built from the sea.

This Girvin | Spirit leaf expresses the beginnings of a conversation with Japanese master, Shu Uemura sensei, several years before his death. A master makeup artist, product developer and innovator, his talk with me was life-changing. And, to loosely paraphrase, the concept of a business must be, first and foremost, about a spirit — this is the heart that must drive all things. For me, this is the way that I have managed my company since the beginning. Spirit and ideas first, then products and success will come. That story is more than 50 years in the making. People pass, but brand stories can live on.

Shu Uemura’s UTOCO spa exemplifies the characteristic of principles unfolding over time, that beauty extends holistically into the framing of comprehensive telling, in every point of content | contact for the experiencer.

While one brand might be the most rarefied, another might be in the telling of a personal story. Like Colleen Stone, a leading executive at a national chain, Merle Norman, a concept that was precise in the settlement of brand in location — in many cases, rural or underdeveloped, even neighborhood markets. Finding a glass ceiling was preventing her from transforming the brand, she went on to tell her own story. Girvin helped her with that transformation. From business plan, to finalized idea(l). But this story is literally about that — her story, her transfiguration and her newly defined concretion of presence, now to more than 10 locations:

And so, too, the telling of Colette Courtion — struggling to find the right place for skin care, her spa-like environment came as a dream and vision — to the one, an attitude of service and attention, honed in years of working at Starbucks in an executive and strategic level; and two, creating a viable retail concept, colored in the dream of the azure blue of the Greek Islands. That story, unfolding here, is another Girvin partnership in seeking out the power of the brand and the telling in the creation of product — in place.

Think about these idealizations in this context:

What’s your story? How do you tell it? And who cares about it?

tsg