Land of Legends
Vietnam’s most popular UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay, is a fantastical destination located North of the country, just a few hours’ drive from Hanoi. It features over 1,500 limestone islands dotting the bay in a timeless natural formation. Small fishing boats navigating the bay’s emerald waters make for a truly spectacular scene.
Halong Bay is Vietnamese for ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’. Jagged edges of limestones, decorated by sporadic rainforests, resemble the back of a submerged dragon. Dragons are a significant mythical creature in Vietnamese culture. Legend has it, that a brood of dragons descended from the heavens and made their home in these waters, eventually forming the iconic towering limestones.
Since nearly ten millennia ago, the bay’s inhabitants were fishermen and stone tools manufacturers. The area played an important role in Vietnam’s 12th-century Feudal era, being an important commercial port.
When a brand can be associated with a place with such a rich heritage, in what ways can history and culture be woven into the brand story?
For every brand that we craft in the Asian context, we are mindful of the history and culture associated with it—the brand heritage, which is a source of distinctive meaning and an aid to identification.
At the beginning of every branding journey, branding experts first conduct stakeholder research. On a deeper level, branding takes into consideration the type of people who will encounter the brand, sensing the vibe of the community through qualitative insights. Once gathered, we identify certain patterns in these insights that can communicate the culture the brand will inherit. Beliefs, habits, rituals, people’s personalities, traditional foods, and cultural celebrations, all contribute to the societal culture.
In the context of place branding, this research is crucial. Elevating the special story of the location can be the differentiating proposition for a place brand, especially at globally recognised heritage destinations like Halong Bay.
Working with BIM Land, among Vietnam’s most trusted real estate developers, we were engaged to develop for the InterContinental® Residences Halong Bay. At the very start of this challenge, we engaged with architects and interior designers to understand the vision for the development.
A distinctive place brand was crafted for The Halong Bay Residences, bringing in local elements that nodded to Halong Bay’s ancient fishing and artisan culture, patterns of light reflecting off the limestone formations, the use of stone in the interiors, and more. Through the visual elements, the brand exhibited a deep showcase of the place’s heritage, paying attention to how small details could be re-interpreted as a premium experience.
To tell a layered story and succinctly signal the brand story, a crafted brand tagline, ‘The Land of Legends’ celebrated the local myths surrounding Halong Bay. This emphasised the brand heritage of not only Halong Bay’s destination branding, but also the development itself and the legendary Intercontinental brand of hospitality. Inspired by the beauty and mystique of Halong Bay, the Residences evoked the signature elements of this fabled heritage site, while elevating the sense of luxury and prestige.