Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

Gabrielle Dolan

  • Business storytelling leader
  • Website
Gabrielle is a global expert on business storytelling and real communication. Her latest book, Magnetic Stories: Connect with Customers and Engage Employees with Brand Storytelling, is available now.

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. Little did I know it would be the last time I stayed in a hotel for close to 12 months due to COVID-19. In hindsight, I really should have made the most of room service and the mini bar.  

It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling. During my stay I noticed a beautiful coffee table-style book on display titled Fullerton Stories, which contained some brilliant examples of brand storytelling.  

If you don’t know about the Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, the signature 5-star hotels are in Singapore and Sydney, and both these buildings are former General Post Offices.  

The Fullerton, specifically the iconic Singapore Hotel, was one of the many companies I researched for my latest book, Magnetic Stories. What I found interesting was the type of stories the business decided to find and share were unique and provide some valuable lessons for other companies.  

Heritage not History  

While the Fullerton Stories book was a great initiative, general manager of the Fullerton Singapore, Giovani Viteral, told me “we didn’t want history confined to only pictures in a book and wanted to bring the stories alive”.  

The Fullerton went on to create a series of videos that feature people who used to work in the historic buildings. So instead of focusing on the history and representing a standard timeline, it used these stories to bring its heritage to life.  

To find these stories, the company initially wrote to respective government departments and asked for the archive records. It also put publicity posts on social media asking for people who used to work in the buildings to contact them. The Fullerton was inundated with people wanting to be a part of this campaign to share their memories.  

Giovanni and the team at Fullerton started referring to the people they chose to feature as ‘personalities’, which is a great description because some real personalities were showcased.  

For example, there is a story of a couple that have been married for 53 years. They met in the General Post Office in the 1960s when they both worked as postal clerks. Robert Lim shares how he was attracted to this girl so he “tried to be nice to her”. Tan Lat Neo, now spouse to Robert Lim, recalled she was initially annoyed because she was distracted by his advances. But eventually she realised he “had good intentions”.  

Sharing Stories Externally  

These videos can be found on the Fullerton’s website, YouTube channel and other social media sites. They form part of an interactive feature that also includes photographs and stories in a prominent position in the lobby of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, called the heritage gallery. The videos are also accessible on TV in all the guest rooms.  

As part of keeping these stories alive, the Fullerton also runs complimentary heritage tours at the hotels for guests as well as visitors. It’s a bit of a tourist attraction.  

Internally, the Fullerton uses the stories in other ways. The videos are used as part of the staff induction program. Not only do all new employees watch the videos, they also go on the heritage tours and learn other key insights about the hotel.  

For example, any server can explain to a guest the history behind the chicken rice they ordered and why this is an important dish to a specific region. These stories are then shared by customer-facing employees at appropriate times to enhance the customer experience.  

Final Questions to Consider  

There are so many lessons we can learn about brand storytelling from the Fullerton. Below are four questions to help you consider if you could do something similar.  

  • Are there any stories worth sharing about who used to work in the building your company now operates from?
  • Can you share these stories in a variety of ways both internally and externally?
  • Are stories part of your induction program to ensure all employees know the history and heritage?
  • Do your customer-facing employees know what stories to share that could enhance the customer experience?

Tags: content marketing, brand strategy, marketing strategy

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