20 May 2020

Accessible, collaborative minds create the best work. Over my time, one of the most satisfying experiences you could enjoy in professional life is a mutually respectful, human-centred, creative-to-business exchange.

That is, the ability to go beyond the emotional barriers of status, persona or judgement and commit yourself in the collaborative service of the opportunity, the brand, the idea and the work. Possibilities become realities, rather than expectation driving obvious, or worse, compromised solutions.

“Applying an accessible, inclusive and dispassionate approach, from all perspectives throughout the creative process, is key to a quality outcome.”

The relationship between people with often opposing left- and right-brain thinking, at its psychological core, is exactly the collision of informed, competitive natures that leads to creative invention that inspires the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens to greatest effect.

I first realised this privileged and powerful scenario when engaged into the process of realising the brand naming and corporate identity of what’s been acknowledged as one of the most unique and exclusive luxury hotels in the world – Saffire – Freycinet Peninsula, on the stunning East Coast of Tasmania. Given the personal, professional nature of this story, there’s no need to disclose names of individuals who now proudly ‘own’ the brand’s story and existence to international media and industry commendation, who committed themselves to the inclusive creative process that unfolded and informed its birth.

Even with the background experience working on the Freycinet Lodge’s branding revitalisation, as Design Director with a previous agency, stepping into the rare air world of the Federal Group there was an atmosphere of privilege yet proud, progressive traditionalism and sophistication.

“Not always my thing, but the attraction of creative trailblazing was just as infectious. Enter into the inner sanctum – and the resulting relationship, process and result that unfolded.”

To tell the tale is to evidence deep inquiry, of uncovering uniqueness and forming a branding solution that possessed the true spirit of the hotel, the environment it conforms to and the sophistication expressed to a proud Tasmanian industry, its prospective customers and the world category at large. In essence, Saffire is the jewel in the Tasmanian tourism crown. Its experience is unmatched on many levels, so the process to realise its personality, presence and potential required the same.

An early brand concept presented by a passionate creative team was loved by many in the stakeholder group, as it seemed to embody what was required. Issue was, it was trying to be too clever, derived from a Latin term to describe the building’s close proximity and engagement with the nature of water. It met the creative brief and would inspire a communications plan that would ‘work’. But at that point, even with the slick graphic design presentation before them, the client politely questioned its true value in terms of telling a new and multi-dimensional story. Enter the search – for a rightful name to describe a property so unique it required going beyond the obvious, the brief and any traditional process.

The client allowed our team (at a previous agency) to research further, to find that uniqueness, that story that had yet to be told. This is where inclusive creative practices go beyond the boundaries of an office, the traditional ‘think tank’ approach, and engage the client’s energy as much as spend their money effectively. The resulting collective effort and enquiry uncovered a truism that was as surprising as it was transforming.

Fact is, Sapphire gems occur naturally in the Freycinet Peninsula area.

Now don’t go racing for your pick and shovel, as they occur in small and well-protected geological formations that have been known to the locals and governing bodies, as history records, for hundreds of years. So where to from there? The story of discovery is just one aspect, the relevance to the area and sophistication another – but what about the experiential aspect of visiting the hotel?

Enter the client – who had an expression that described the interaction of nature’s effects and the physical characteristics of the landscape, including the imposing and visually beautiful ‘Hazards’ mountains that focus your view from all aspects and angles visiting the area. That expression was ‘fire and water’ – the combination of light, water, rock and opposing yet combining effects that their interplay creates, a visual masterpiece as the Hazards reflect the intense ‘fiery’ colours of stunning sunsets against the calmness and cooling of the ocean at its footsteps. An experience that the hotel’s architecture frames and captures in full view, that mystifies the eye, seduces the mind and enchants the soul.

“The creative direction, marketing, and advertising campaign were inspired by characterising that experience.”

The key was to add emotion to the rational, add experience to the evidence and present a name that embodied discovery as much as formation. Saffire was born – its spelling ridiculed by some copywriters and marketing consultants at the time, but as a brand name it represented the effective combination of unique natural forces and elements, and the human intersection that the property offered in a sophisticated and disarming way.

The theme of ‘jewel in the crown’ also played its part across an integrated campaign including traditional media and digital marketing, online advertising and website design, and even merchandise and public relations engagement strategies. The world responded in applause. Case closed.

That’s the story of an inclusive client and creative process. A collective journey of discovery to establish the world’s most awarded and innovative luxury hotel.

And it all started with you (you know who you are).

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