Cornell Hotel Society

Cornell Hotel Society alumni having a conversation in black and white.
Cornell Hotel Society brand identity in white.

Hotelie for Life.

Creating a powerful brand tagline, brand identity, brand community, and brand launch campaign to re-energize and expand a global alumni organization.

The independent, alumni-run Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) is the global alumni network of Cornell University’s renowned School of Hotel Administration and the hospitality industry’s largest and most influential network of global industry executives. Connection to this powerhouse network is a major part of the value proposition of attending the school in the first place. Yet CHS needed to reverse the trend of declining paid memberships that was part of an overall industry trend.

CHS needed to attract, retain, and engage their top-tier alumni and strengthen the network overall. In order to re-engage and re-energize the membership base, the brand needed purpose and identity that alumni of any age, anywhere around the world, would want to be a part of. It was essential to reignite the flame of pride for graduates.

Cornell Hotel Society Brand Perception — older adults gathered together laughing.



Cornell Hotel Society Brand Perception — Edison style light bulbs dimly lit.



Cornell Hotel Society Brand Perception — Young confident woman with hand under her chin smiling at the camera.



Cornell Hotel Society Brand Perception — Hands tying a bow around a gift.

Life is Service


The new Cornell Hotel Society brand tagline — Hotelie for Life


Working with CHS’s global leadership team, SIGNAL identified the brand as a unifying hub of both communication and identity.

In 2015, we created the brand promise of “Hotelie for Life,” which took the casual “nickname” of Hotel School students and turned it into a recognizable, emotionally resonant, and unifying identity that would last a lifetime, no matter where life and career took alumni.

And, with the transient nature of alumni, and more than 60 chapters around the world, CHS needed to be available wherever, whenever. Creating an online environment where Hotelies worldwide could communicate, share tradition, rekindle friendships, and bond over passions laid a foundation for furthering ties to the society and each other.


“Hotelie for Life” has taken firm root across the global alumni base as its “Just Do It.” The line has become inseparable from the brand identity and is so important to the alumni association that it has been trademarked as a key brand asset. It remains the key message in all alumni association communications and social media. It has also been adopted by the (now) Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration for use in all school-based alumni communications, which is indicative of the overall success of the campaign and brand platform.

The initial launch of the campaign and communication hub generated more than 900 new paid memberships in its first year and a significant increase in engagement, including robust opt-in for a new lifetime membership. The original engagement website has now evolved into a full-fledged global engagement platform, The CHS Lobby, connecting alumni around the world and across generations with 24/7 access.

Cornell Hotel Society members gather with brand tagline banner.
Cornell Hotel Society brand identity in white.

“‘Hotelie for Life’ gave the world’s largest and most influential alumni network of hospitality leaders the unifying brand message and rallying cheer its global membership so richly deserved.”

Deniz Omurgonulsen Altug
Cornell Hotel Society

Vice President of Membership, Leading Hotels of the World
Global Past President, Cornell Hotel Society

Cornell Hotel Society lapel pins with new brand identity.

A logo that would signal hospitality leadership worldwide.

CHS needed a simple, sophisticated mark that would translate well across a variety of materials — from physical environments where CHS alumni would gather to digital environments to lapel pins — and that could be a symbol of unity and hospitality for members worldwide. A distinctive take on the pineapple was universally meaningful.

Cornell Hotel Society members gather for alumni events.

A sense of belonging to span generations.

The “Hotelie for Life” rallying cry has become so central to the shared identity of the global alumni base that the Hotel School and CHS Foundation now offer “Hotelie for Life Senior Prize,” a $10,000 annual cash award to one high-performing graduating senior, plus monetary awards to finalists.

Cornell Hotel Society brand identity in white.

“Cheryl developed a focal plan around the tagline ‘Hotelie for Life,’ which is used in all communication by the Society and has also been taken ‘onboard’ by the Hotel School. The team has been fully engaged, professional, and personable, and I would highly recommend them.”

Liv Gussing Burgess
Cornell Hotel Society

Founder & Managing Director, Luxury Hospitality Consulting
Global Past President, Cornell Hotel Society

Cornell Hotel Society brand and marketing materials featuring signature graphics, new color palette, and signature photography.

Creating a system rich with message and meaning.

We developed a secondary color palette and graphic elements including patterns based on the pineapple theme and Cornell’s distinctive red. A dramatic and authentic black-and-white photo style empowered alumni to see themselves in communication and tapped into felt needs to belong, connect, and be seen as global industry leaders. These elements were put to use in a variety of materials for a multichannel content strategy, including mailers, pop-up banners, social media, a microsite, and lapel pins, which became a point of pride for members.

Cornell Hotel Society pop up signage and brand patterns.

“The products delivered by SIGNAL were very well received by the executive board and the members of our association. Of special note was our new motto, ‘Hotelie for Life.’ This anthem has been so strong that we have registered it as a trademark. Because the message truly hit the spot, it served as the rallying cry for alumni during some turbulent times on campus. Beyond the tangible deliverables, the staff at SIGNAL was a joy to work with.”

Robert Mandelbaum
Cornell Hotel Society

Director of Research Information Services, CBRE
Global Past President, Cornell Hotel Society

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