The Dell

Branding a Feeling


The Challenge

The Dell is a very special place. A stay here stays with you.

But, its identity was flat and its website was uninspiring and difficult. It looked like any other self-catering operation in a competitive part of the Scottish Highlands. Since 2012, its owners Ross and Polly Cameron, have slowly improved the infrastructure. In 2015 they were ready for a relaunch and a drive for growth. The Camerons wanted to sell the wonders of being situated in the stunning Cairngorm National Park along with the highlights of delightful Nethy Bridge.

It was our job to help them tell those tales.


The Solution

The previous Dell identity and website were looking quite dated. Although they carried a simplie and authentic feel, there was a danger that it looked a little too ‘niche’ which we felt was holding the business back. The website, The Dell’s main marketing touchpoint, was lacking in really selling the depth of The Dell experience which is vital in convincing our target groups to consider it as a venue for a high value event such as a wedding or family reunion.

Our first task was to get to a Simple Truth for The Dell: an organising thought that powers the whole business. For Ross and Polly, who are so often caught up in the maelstrom of running things, this brutal simplicity of thought is a vital shortcut helping them to make easy decisions on a day-to-day basis. The challenge was how to find a language that sums up how special a place The Dell is…

“Made at The Dell” was felt to carry all the appropriate sentiment we wanted to communicate. In fact, it’s the embodiment of Ross and Polly themselves as “makers”: whether that’s Polly's upcycling of furniture, Ross and his DIY or their combined love of creating in the kitchen. It didn’t need to be consumer facing in the final execution – we just needed to find a way to articulate it graphically.

The obvious starting place was to create an iconic marque. We chose the beautiful Oak tree (with swing) that stands proudly in The Dell’s gardens to sum up everything that makes the place special: authenticity, provenance and family. (It was planted by Polly’s grandfather in the 1960s when he bought the house). The identity was created in the spirit of a maker’s marque which had the flexibility to be extended and repurposed for other things at The Dell such as labels or tags.

The website was reimagined and redesigned to help sell a deeper experience of The Dell, but also to streamline the booking process. Separate sections were created to appeal to our target groups and a new booking engine now makes the buying process more intuitive.


The Impact

This is an example of implementing design and marketing basics; letting the product speak for itself. 

We provided an objective approach, sending the right messages to the right groups at the right time. This helped portray a premium holiday destination; a class above the competition. The overhauled and emotive brand identity roots the brand in its provenance. The new website showcases The Dell of Abernethy in all its quirky splendour with an improved user experience. Both aspects helped set the business on a growth path that’s already proving successful. A virtuous circle of success and reinvestment in an evocative holiday destination and the highland community of Nethy Bridge.

A year on the results speak clearly. Sales are up 36%, outperforming the marketplace by over 30%. Good times for The Dell with the rebrand and website winning a Silver Design Effectiveness Award this year. You can find out more by downloading the entry document.

The Dell. The place to please all of the people, all of the time.

Trip Advisor June 2017