The Gladstone Hotel is an internationally recognized boutique art hotel that uniquely blends historical Victorian architecture with contemporary luxury. Downtown culture and art mingle within it’s walls, making the hotel an iconic Toronto hub for locals and international travelers alike.
Based on a strong values mandate, The Gladstone boasts 37 artist designed hotel rooms, over 70 art exhibitions annually, 4 diverse event venue spaces and 2 restaurants. The Gladstone strives to foster an authentic experience for its guests and the local community.
While enjoying a strong position in the art community, The Gladstone Hotel expressed the need to expand accessibility and a differentiated brand offering to a broader spectrum of patrons. Competition in hospitality and community hotspots has steadily increased on Queen Street West – the second coolest neighbourhood in the world (as quoted by Vogue magazine). The constant need and sheer volume of the hotel’s brand materials, demanded the creation of a dynamic design system to connect all the disperate elements into a managable set of templates and assets to be used by the internal design team.
Joel and Sovereign State changed my mind about the value of branding. As the lead developer of the Gladstone Hotel revitalization in Toronto, I resisted visual branding for a long time because the Gladstone Hotel’s activities are so complex and multifaceted (the hotel contains restaurants, bars, hotel rooms and robust arts programming). We are and always have been protective of the brand’s authenticity and mission. Because The Gladstone Hotel enjoys a strong a niche in the community both locally and internationally, we didn’t want to create something that felt inauthentic and static. Working with Sovereign State was so much more than a brand redesign experience. They were able to take my mission and values and turn them into an accessible brand tool for my staff and my clients that felt genuine… and ultimately felt like us.
–CHRISTINA ZEIDLER, PRESIDENT OF GLADSTONE HOTEL
Sovereign State executed a series of agile strategy sessions with the Gladstone Leadership team to re-fortify it’s core values, differentiators, and opportunities without diluting it’s soul. Extracting clear and powerful positions for unique brand experiences would create the foundation from which a supporting brand system could be built, and provide a starting point from which fresh branded content could be generated. Part of the new mandate would be to move away from simply displaying art installations to creating and curating one-of-kind artful experiences encompassing everything from the hotel stay, to food, beverage, gallery and event spaces. The alchemy of unique events founded in art would solidify the brand’s ownership of these experiences and open up new areas for revenue generation.
Sovereign State researched competitive sets inside and outside of the hospitality space to determine unique opportunities for the system. Hotel research was also conducted in Toronto, New York and Montreal to collect the emotion and feel when interacting with environments, wayfinding and how flow within public spaces is created.
Sovereign State’s unique approach helped us translate our values into tangible and modular visual tools that we could use across our many activities and collateral pieces. The team at Sovereign State also helped us refine our message, define who we are in the marketplace, and how we differentiate ourselves. I enjoyed working with them so much that we are currently discussing and collaborating on new and upcoming projects.
— Christina Zeidler, president of Gladstone hotel
Three core elements from the strategy: Alchemy, Explorer, and Creator provided the building blocks from which the graphic system was built. Gladstone president Christina Zieldler stated that the hotel should stand as a beacon for arts, community, and experiences. This served as the foundation for the branding evolution – modifying the pre-existing identity and turning it on its head. The overlaying of colour and rotating brand identity speaks to dynamic, unique and ever-changing experiences.
The base identity is also used as an anchoring graphic, which when coupled with photography or colour, promotes and differentiates the hotel offerings.
Colour & Typography
Black & White
Subrand Colour Combinations