Ritz Hotel signI don’t know about you, but I sure would rather be staying at the Ritz-Carlton than at a place described as ‘ritzy’. Ritzy could mean any number of things: expensive chandeliers, 24/7 room service, an infinity pool… In some markets, ‘ritzy’ might just mean HBO.

But The Ritz? Well, that’s a different story. Since the early 20th century, the Ritz-Carlton has set the benchmark for quality and luxury in accommodations. Looking at 100+ years of the Ritz-Carlton brand is an overwhelming task, so let’s hone in on the company’s most recent moves, picking out some lessons along the way that can help you build your brand…

#1 The Ritz Tells Stories About Its Brand

The Ritz-Carlton does a great job telling short stories about its brand. Check out their Stories That Stay With You page, where you can read little anecdotes about how the company’s ladies and gentlemen (term for staff) go over-and-above the call of duty to meet guests’ needs.

Speaking of over-and-above the call of duty, check this out…

Ritz-Carlton tweets

It’s not every day you see a major company reach out to a small time blogger. The video the Ritz-Carlton shared with me does include a wonderful story, and the fact that it’s not some off-the-wall, one-of-a-kind example is a testament to the Ritz-Carlton’s values (more on that below).

In addition to the above examples, the Ritz-Carlton tells and lives company stories through its Twitter handle. Just browse through their tweets and you’ll see a brand that interacts with its fans in a genuine and sincere way. You definitely don’t find that same sense of authenticity on the competition’s Twitter handle.

Takeaway: If you’re doing great things with your brand, let others know about them! (See what you need to know about brand storytelling from the masters at Pixar.) Also, you are living a story on your social media profiles. Live the story that you want to tell! Do you want to be authentic and connected or distant and self-promotional?

#2 The Ritz Has Values

Not just abstract “values”… actual written values that have been committed to memory by everyone on payroll. These 12 Service Values are a part of the Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standards. Also a part of the Gold Standards: a Credo, Motto, Three Steps of Service, the 6th Diamond, and the Employee Promise.

The Ritz-Carlton knows what it stands for, and is eager to put it out there in the public with the full faith that their employees will back those values. I would encourage you to go read through the Gold Standards to get a grasp for yourself on what the Ritz-Carlton is like.

Takeaway: Whether you are just now building your brand or have an established brand, consider drafting a set of values and/or a credo. You may already know what these values are, but they’re key in getting your team on the same page.

#3 The Ritz Empowers Employees

At the Ritz-Carlton, every single employee has the ability to spend up to $2,000 on each guest per incident without any permission, according to Simon F. Cooper, the former COO and President of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. That money doesn’t have to be used just to “recover” an incident. Oftentimes it can simply be spent to improve a guest’s experience.

Cooper said in a separate interview, “At The Ritz-Carlton, ninety percent of the brand image is emotional: It’s in how the ladies and gentlemen bring it to life.” The $2,000 allowance is rarely utilized because it doesn’t have to be. The Ritz-Carlton brand isn’t built around the “stuff” but the presentation. As Cooper says, “Ten percent is the platform, but the rest is people.”

Takeaway: Give your employees the power to resolve issues on their own. This power could be granted in monetary form (