Modest :: the Michael Morris Portfolio

Hotel Vermillion branding

Roles: Art Director, Designer, Copywriter

How do you get a job without having experience? How do you gain experience without first having a job? It’s as big a quandary for agencies as it is for first-time job seekers.

Our agency saw a great opportunity for business within the travel & leisure industry, but alas, we had zero experience within that market. So like any self-respecting agency, we faked it by creating a branding and print ad campaign from scratch.

Step one: Develop a name and backstory.
For the name, we wanted something sexy — hip but experienced, one with some history but also with a modern twist. Something like Hotel Vermillion.

And a wonderful name deserves a wonderful backstory: Spanish émigré and vintner Juan Jaimez settled in the Willamette Valley in the 1890s to reestablish his Pinot Noir label. Longing for the access he once held to the international elite, he needed a private hotel in which he could host a steady procession of Presidential envoys, shipping magnates, and Far Eastern dignitaries. Since first opening its doors in 1906, Hotel Vermillion has been synonymous with a passion for travel, influence and the finest of luxuries.

Step two: Pull the logo out from the details.
The Hotel Vermillion logo was already hiding somewhere in the name and the backstory; we just had to find it (image 1 of 2). The modified Copperplate font came out of the history of the hotel with its old world, etched-in-cornerstone serifs. The fluid curves of the red "V" mark add a little something modern while also playing upon the founder’s Pinot Noir label, with the silhouette of a red wine goblet.

Step three: Let the print ads tell the Hotel Vermillion story.
The Hotel Vermillion print ads were the pinnacle of the entire project. They would be the catalyst through which we could influence the travel & leisure industry. What we created was actually a series of ads that illustrate the broad range of executions that can result from a single concept — some executions serve to merely establish the brand while others include offers and deadlines to encourage response (image 2 of 2).

As a testament to the strength of the Hotel Vermillion campaign, it has long been retired, having served its purpose well as our springboard into the travel & leisure industry.