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The knives are out

Vacation Rental Marketing - The Branding Sessions - Part 1

Welcome to the first of our Branding Sessions.
This is just a brief introduction but touches on some important aspects of our business and branding in general.

Once you've watched the video please read the note below in order to access the next videos.

PLEASE NOTE... In the video, I talk about creating a logo with or
Don't do this until you have watched the next 2 modules in the series

You can what the rest of the branding sessions by clicking on the image below

The branding sessions

The next module will cover brand colours, how to select them and how to create a brand board.

For those that prefer to read rather than watch the video, here's the transcript...

Today I’m going to talk about vacation rental websites and brand building and I’m going to share some easy to follow takeaways that you can employ that will bring you more direct bookings.

But, first off let’s forget about vacation rentals for a minute and let’s imagine that we’re selling something else.

Let’s imagine that we are selling knives.

We all own knives. There are lots to choose from. Kitchen knives, bread knives, butter knives and cheese knives. Some of us have pen knives, sheath knives, cleavers or machetes.

Knives come in all shapes and sizes. 

Marketing 101

If we are going to be selling knives in a competitive marketplace, how are we going to approach that?

I for one would start looking at which knives out sell other knives and why.

Ask yourself, what’s the best selling knife of all time (and why)?

You probably know the answer…

It’s the Swiss Army Knife made by Victorinox

So, what makes it so popular?

It’s well established (they were founded in 1884)

They are high quality

It’s more than “just a knife” it’s a multi tool and that’s what sets it apart from the crowd

They are branded

So if we are looking to run a successful knife company the Swiss Army Knife would be a good example to follow.

We can’t establish ourselves in 1884 but we can aim to produce a quality product, create a multi purpose tool and build a brand alongside the product.

That, in effect, is exactly what Leatherman and Gerber (the other main players in the space) did, and it worked for them too.

Back to vacation rental websites and branding…

Just like knives, rental properties come in all shapes and sizes. There are villas, condos, cottages, penthouses, cabins, treehouses, windmills, follies and apartments and more. 

The market is competitive and if we want to succeed we need a quality, multi purpose product and we need to build a brand around it. 


In order to survive in an oversaturated marketplace you need a quality offering. If you don’t offer quality you can only compete on price and that’s a race to the bottom.
It’s a simple choice. Run with the crowd or strive to be the best. The choice is yours but the choice that matters is that of the potential guest and given a choice between high and low quality we all choose on the side of quality. We may not all be able to afford the quality options in life but we all prefer the quality option.

Multi Purpose

Every day I see owners asking about building websites for their properties. They want to know the best way of creating a site for their property. Should they use Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Lodgify or Promote My Place.

It makes little to no difference which platform you use to create your website. What matters is what your website provides for your site visitors. Here at the soup, we create lots of vacation rental websites but we don’t create websites for VR owners. We focus on what potential guests need.

It’s this very approach that made Victorinox’s Swiss Army Penknife so successful.
It isn’t just a knife. People who use it have access to a tooth pick, a nail file, a pair of scissors and other useful tools depending on the model they bought.

If you create a Swiss Army Knife of a website your site visitors will find it more useful than than the standard one dimensional, ‘here’s some photos of my house’ offering of the masses.

People aren’t going on vacation because you have somewhere to stay. They are going on vacation to have a good time. They just happen to need somewhere to stay while having a good time. 

If your website helps them have a better vacation, both at the planning stage and during the vacation itself that can only benefit you and the guests themselves.

Websites that only serve a sales purpose don’t attract traffic and they don’t serve a potential guests needs. 

Building A Brand

Around 50% of short term rental owners have a website but less that 1% are actively building a brand. 

That’s a pretty shocking fact considering that we live in a branded world. Everywhere we look we see Coca Cola, Nike, Apple, Amazon, Disney and the like.

The same goes for Airbnb, Booking(.com) and Homeaway in our business.

Once again, the Swiss Army Penknife is a great example of great branding. In effect they did little more than make their knives red and add a logo but their knives are recognisable from a distance. Yes, quality and the multi purpose aspects play A PART but the red knife cheeks set them APART.

Now of course we can’t compete with the big brands, we don’t have big branding departments or big marketing budgets but we can out brand the vast majority of competing rental property owners and that’s all that matters.

Let’s start with some basics…

A logo

To begin with, not many owner run businesses even have a logo but logos are easy to come by.

Just head over to or and search ‘logo’ and you will find a raft of designers that will create a logo for you from just five dollars.

My advice here is to spend more than five dollars though. As with all things, you get what you pay for and fifty dollars will get you something that you can be proud of. After all you are going to live with your logo for a long time.

Many people think that a logo is a brand but the logo is only the face of your brand. 

Building your brand

If the logo is the face of your brand then the brand itself is the personality of your business. It’s how you look and behave, it’s how you answer the phone, it’s how you appear across social media and in emails.

In the simplest of terms, a brand is being consistent. It’s using the same colours and fonts. The same tone. The same level of service. Across all aspects of your business.

In conclusion

In a hugely competitive marketplace only products of quality will survive. Businesses that serve the customer outperform those that serve the owner. Becoming recognisable and being consistent is a key factor in becoming sucessful.

Knives need to be sharp in order to serve their purpose and you need to be sharp when it comes to outperforming your competition.
Knives that aren’t sharp are dull and there are tens of thousands of dull, one dementional,  rental websites with no branding strategy out there.
Don’t be dull. Be sharp.

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Written by alan egan
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