Facelifts Don’t Work

I booked a hotel online this past weekend in Charlotte, NC. I did my typical due diligence on reviews, sifted through a few negative ones, and then decided to take a bit of a chance anyway. Lesson learned. You should probably trust (the average of) peer reviews.

When I walked into The Blake Hotel, I got the impression that it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. The Blake is frozen in time, seemingly mid-renovation, with the bare minimum of effort, furniture, and fixtures to suspend the facade. The labyrinthian walk from the parking garage, through the attached conference center, and eventually into the hotel is a bizarre journey through the last few decades. And once I got to my room, I imagined I could take a ladder, set it up in any corner, and, if I pulled hard enough, remove the entire pseudo-boutique facade, like peeling off sheets of fresh latex paint.

Which is how most of us approach communications and design. A little gloss here, some fancy words there, and poof, all is well. But if you start from the outside it’s just a facelift. If the bones are rotten (or, in the case of The Blake, woefully outdated) putting on a coat of paint and throwing some modern touches at the problem won’t give you a cohesive, intentional, or finished result. Smart folks will see the cracks and feel the dissonance.

All your attempts at updating your look or your voice have to begin with the internal, or any attempt at a facelift will be wasted effort.