When my friend, Lee, told me that she and her boyfriend, Danny, were giving up their London lives and moving to St Ives in Cornwall where they had bought a guest house, I was thrilled for them. I knew they had been itching for a new challenge and a change of lifestyle and this provided the answer to the ‘what next?’ question.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Danny and Lee in beautiful St Ives towards the end of their second summer season welcoming guests to the Little Leaf Guest House.

Little Leaf is currently ranked Number One on Trip Advisor out of 105 B&Bs and Inns in St Ives, with 275 guests awarding them a five-star ‘excellent’ rating – the other 5 reviewers found Little Leaf to be merely ‘Very good’!

So the customers are undoubtedly happy, but I had a feeling that ‘just’ providing a clean and comfortable place for holidaymakers and serving up some cracking breakfasts was not enough to achieve such accolades. Surely meeting these standards should be the minimum?

I received a warm welcome on arrival and fell in love with the home away from home that Lee and Danny have created for their guests.  And given that Lee and I first met while studying together for our MBA degrees, it was not surprising that conversation soon turned to what was going on behind the scenes to make the business such a success. As Lee said, she and Danny had wanted to create the kind of place they would want to stay. So how did they go about it?

Lee had clearly been applying her interest, expertise and experience in marketing from the very start of their project. The naming of the business after the Legend of St Ives was only the beginning – and what an inspired beginning it was Danny! The name provided the basis for the logo and some of the more obvious elements of the branding of the business, but of course branding is so much more than a logo. It’s the ‘badge’ that I see in my mind’s eye when I think of Lee, Danny and the Little Leaf Guest House, but the less tangible yet undeniable elements and authentic personality of the brand are woven into the decor, the style of their communication with guests, potential guests, suppliers, their community, both written and verbal.

We quickly moved on to discuss Little Leaf’s Brand Charter – the  articulation of the strategy, purpose and objective of the brand, the guiding principles on which all business decisions are made.  Established in the early development of the business, Little Leaf’s brand charter is central to Danny and Lee’s decision making. If either partner has an idea for the business, they refer to the charter. It takes the emotion out of decision making in a partnership, leaving no chance for either one to feel that their ideas aren’t being given due consideration. A more inclusive discussion ensues as to whether the idea is supported by their strategic decisions articulated through their charter. If the idea doesn’t fit these guiding principles, they simply don’t proceed.

The brand charter therefore ensures Little Leaf’s brand strategy is applied consistently throughout their business and engages with their audience in everything they say, do and are. The brand charter defines Little Leaf Guest House:

There is great value in being different – not just better

We treasure the community in which we live

Thoughtfulness and detail go hand in hand

We are committed to a light eco footprint

Honesty and integrity form the foundations of everything we do

Little Leaf is the child of our personalities, energy and enthusiasm

The brand charter breathes life into the Little Leaf brand, and encompasses the personality which comes from Little Leaf’s two wonderful hosts, the newly married Lee and Danny. And yes, there is so much more to running a successful guest house than providing a clean and comfortable place for visitors to stay, although the breakfasts were truly outstanding!

The Little Leaf Guest House http://www.littleleafguesthouse.co.uk/