There are way too many companies in the leisure industry asking all the wrong questions.
Incorporating the Entire Family
It is always amazing how many family attractions do not include family friendly branding. As more and more places open in the UK for the young family audience the competition is becoming thick and saturated. More and more attractions are opening and competing for the attention of the young ones in the summer months. The trend is inevitable.
The truth is a very simple one, and one we do not like to hide behind a lot of words. Those companies, attractions, and corporations; those parks, country estates, and zoos; those castles, theatres, and playhouses who do not flaunt what they have to the wider family audience are going to miss out.
Never has family branding been as important as it is now. There are too many companies out there with unfriendly logos and brands, too many companies out there with obnoxious syndications of popular ideas, too many companies out there with a true lack of heart in regards to their family features. This is the sad truth.
There are many companies out there who give up on appealing to all, and instead of creating a valuable experience for all they simply resort to cheap gimmicks in order to keep those who are not entertained busy.
This is where companies need to turn around and ask themselves what really matters? Is it the idea that they wish to come across as a serious house on a serious Earth, or is it more important to them that they come across as somewhere embracing for the entire family?
One of the popular misconceptions is that the notion, the concept of family-friendly-ness, is only relevant to those places catering to young children. It is a flawed idea, as family friendly does not necessarily mean just that. It means so much more
Family friendly means catering to the family – the entire family. It does not necessarily mean just catering to young children. Family friendly means creating something everyone can enjoy between the ages of 0 and 100+. What family friendly means is not dumbing something down but rather universalising it. It needs to appeal to all.
A Couple of Great Examples
There are numerous great examples of this, places with brands that can both appeal to old and new and cater to all. One such example is that of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
It is easy to have admiration for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. They have done remarkably well, throughout their seven historical properties, to incorporate fun for all of the family. They have banners and plaques aligned toward adults, as well as those aimed at children, with enough activities for both at all locations to stay entertained.
What is remarkable though is how they pull this off in terms of their branding. The SBT use a mixture of contemporary and old branding in order to bring a new life to old ideas. Their logo shows a series of coloured blocks, each in a deep red or brown (depicting royalty, homeliness, and a sense of connectivity with other Shakespeare themed properties such as the RSC) overlapping in a modernistic way. This brings a sense of old and new to the design.
Everything about the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust puts emphasis on the properties and how they can be enjoyed no matter the age group rather than focusing on an age group to try and cater to each one individually.
Another example is that of Merlin Entertainment. Across their parks and attractions they have put family friendly at the forefront. As well as that even their logo has a mature feel with a serif font, but with a touch of added magic. Merlin have epitomised family friendly entertainment in one simple logo. They appeal to all ages.
Ultimately this is the core difference between companies who succeed in family branding against those who do not. Those who succeed position themselves as “how can we make our service appeal to all ages”, as opposed to “how can we bring in something new to appeal to a different age”. This primary approach is unique and creates a synergy between the product and the audience. The latter leaves much to be desired. It can grow old incredibly quickly.
There are two very distinct ways of viewing family friendly attractions. Either (a) we aren’t appealing to four to ten year olds, so let’s bring in gimmicks to keep them entertained or (b) we aren’t appealing to four to ten year olds, so how can we simplify our attraction for them?
This is ultimately the question leisure companies need to ask – how can we help all ages make the most out of our attraction?
So ask yourself that question. Are you considering using cheap gimmicks or are you considering working with your attraction to make it more entertaining for all?