Does Best Western’s New Logo Approach Accomplish Its Goal of Freshening the Brand?

Designers applaud the idea, but not necessarily the result

Best Western International is checking out, and Best Western Hotels & Resorts is checking in.

Along with tweaking its name this week, the 69-year-old hotel chain, which operates more than 4,100 properties in 100 countries, scrapped its familiar blue-and-gold logo in favor of different visual markers for its primary range of properties.

This wide-ranging brand reboot is part of a drive to help contemporize Best Western's image and broaden its appeal, particularly among millennials, in an increasingly complex and competitive marketplace. The chain has also announced a new boutique hotel offering called GLo

Here's the old logo, which has been around for 22 years:

That visual icon is being replaced by a more streamlined, white-on-blue mark for the chain's flagship Best Western properties:

Dorothy Dowling, Best Western senior vice president of marketing and sales, told Adweek that the makeover has been in the works for several years, with MiresBall in San Diego creating the new identities.

Keeping the blue hue was important for continuity, Dowling said, especially in the logo for the overarching brand. In addition, new images have been developed for Best Western's core hotel offerings. "We wanted to visually establish a point of difference between all three," Dowling said.

For Best Western Plus, the globe morphs into a red diamond, and the type changes color to subtly suggest the more stylish offering:

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The upscale Best Western Premier goes for a different take on the pattern:

 

The use of the BW variants is a nod to mobile screens, Dowling said, and represents an effort by the company to appeal to consumers, such as millennials, who frequently use their phones and tablets to book rooms.

"The new identities appear not only designed to have consumers reconsider what they think about Best Western, but also see Best Western as able to stretch across multiple categories of hotels, from more basic to more premium," said Brian Rafferty, global director of research insights at Siegel+Gale. "The open question is, will this work for the more premium properties?"

Nick Clark, executive creative director at brand consultancy The Partners, called the rebranding effort "a brave move, and one that should be applauded. This category of hotel is facing a direct challenge in the form of much more attractive and contemporary offerings such as Aloft and Even, and an indirect and arguably more severe challenge from digital disruptors such as Airbnb. The need to attract millennials is the name of the game right now. Without success amongst this group, any brand like this must fear for the future."

That said, Clark believes the changes themselves, from a design perspective, are disappointing. "I'm sure many, many options were proposed and discussed," he said, "but the final result is somewhat generic and quite unmemorable. While what it is replacing truly was of the distant past, was there really nothing in the old identity that could be taken into the future?"

Other notable companies looking to move their brands into the future with new logos include Google and Verizon. Both recently unveiled updated visual identities that received decidedly mixed receptions.

Brian Collins, the former creative chief at Ogilvy's brand innovation group who runs design firm Collins, was similarly unimpressed. "I'm baffled to see that the new logo looks so—old. Someone is hedging their bet here. The imagination and verve being put into improving their guests' experiences appears to have been throttled in the visual identity. My guess? Someone on the client side got cold feet, got risk averse, then tested the hell out of these ideas."