the lark


When the Imperial Inn first opened in 1963, it was a nice place.

By the turn of the century, it was falling into disrepair and in 2010, it was closed and abandoned. In 2013, a local group purchased the property with the intention of transforming it into a lively, modern, and successful part of the community.

A great idea, but they weren’t alone. Long suffering from a dearth of lodging in the downtown core, Bozeman was suddenly awash in several boutique hotel projects.

So, the question the Imperial team came to us with was this: How do you stand out in a suddenly crowded marketplace and attract a special class of traveler?

Their architecture and design team was quite talented, so it was clear from the start that the new hotel would have curb appeal. But it needed a name, a visual language, and a story to tell. The team was committed to building and running the new place in a way that was organic to Bozeman and the Montana ethos. And so they needed a local partner that shared those values and could help them define their brand, differentiating against chains opening other boutique properties just blocks away.

We walked them through our process for Travel brands, identified their target market, and validated their positioning and operational strategies. Our research-backed, brand-first approach ensured they were making a unique promise to travelers, giving the owners, managers, and employees a playbook from which to operate.

We helped them find a name: The LARK, a Bozeman Hotel. We made them a sweet logo. Three of our designers even produced artwork to decorate the walls in several of The LARK’s guest rooms.

Interactive Art Director Jeremy Sandlin’s interpretive installation on the Bozeman area's most notable peaks in one of The LARK's rooms.

By the spring of 2015, the eyesore had been transformed. Suddenly, The Lark was one of the best looking parts of downtown Bozeman.

Photo credit: Dan Armstrong

Photo credit: Dan Armstrong

Photo credit: Dan Armstrong

By using our process and sticking to the brand playbook we helped them create, The Lark has rocketed to the top of the heap for Bozeman lodging. Much of the feedback from its first couple of months of customers has closely mirrored the brand pillars we helped them develop, creating some pretty amazing and powerful word-of-mouth. And as of right now, The Lark is the #1 hotel in Bozeman on TripAdvisor.

Reservations are strong. There’s no confusing The LARK for any other place in town. They’ve built something truly unique, and if you’re ever passing through the Gallatin Valley, we can’t recommend it highly enough.