Brand concept and identity for a boutique hotel in Austin with a “keep it weird” aesthetic.

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    Legend has it there was a farmer in the Highlands of Scotland who bred an exotic strain of pink sheep. Thinking this would be a unique marketing tie-in for our hotel here in the Highland section of Austin, we imported several of them to deploy in our common areas. Though they were a source of great delight for our guests, sheep—especially kept indoors—are unruly. Pink ones especially. So we returned the sheep and replaced them with the highly authentic-looking replicas that you’ll see in and around The Highlander. We encourage you to take pictures of you and other members of your party with the sheep and post them.

    The Highlander


The Highlander Hotel / Brand Identity Concept and Development

Previously associated with a large chain, the underperforming property was purchased by investors looking to create a unique boutique offering that would cater to the area’s tech sector and college. The challenge was to create a destination experience that would woo a predominantly Gen X audience off the beaten path and away from the more popular tourist areas in favor of staying locally. 

The hotel name was chosen because it was both a nod to the area of Austin—Highland—and connected to an established folklore that could feel at once familiar and fresh with a bit of whimsy designed in. The whimsy, aka pink sheep, was inspired by a true story of farmers in Bathgate, Scotland who dyed their sheep a bright pink to inspire drivers passing by to visit their town. The sheep and their vibrant color hit the all-important ‘keep Austin weird’ quotient while cementing the promise of a unique guest experience in the hotel.

The brand identity development grew from the name and story to a full expression (logo, stylistic treatments, illustration, messaging) across all factions of hotel operation from interior installation (sculpture, color palette, murals and room artwork) to wayfinding (signage, room numbers) to guest experience (messaging and systems communicating service offerings with humor) and marketing (print, digital, social). 


  • Kate Blackman / design and direction
  • Bill Heater / writing
  • Blue Sheep Farm / sheep sculpture
  • Daniel Waeger / signage