Hilton Hotels Refines Global Identity

NEW YORK Hilton Worldwide (formerly Hilton Hotels Corp.) has launched a new corporate identity, including a new corporate name and logo. The new name, Hilton Worldwide, is intended to emphasize the unification of the hotelier’s stable of brands as well as its global reach.

Its new identity is part of an effort to further reunite the company’s holdings since its international business returned to Hilton ownership in 2006 after being sold in the late 1960s. The name Hilton Hotels Corp. belonged to the U.S. entity, so Hilton Worldwide represents a wholly new brand for both parts of the company’s business.

A new logo is meant to evoke both a sense of the company’s history and future.“We wanted it to have a modern look and feel, but also give a nod to the past,” said Paul Brown, president, global brands and commercial services for Hilton.

Part of the ‘H’ is derived from the ’70s Hilton Hotel logo. It also has the look of a bridge, implying a connection between the old and new, said Brown. “Platinum and gold signify what we want to be projecting as a corporate identity — the professionalism associated with the company but also the richness of the past.” Hilton worked with the brand consultants Landor Associates in developing the new identity.

While Hilton’s individual hotel brands will remain unchanged, the new look will be used in business-to-business communications and the travel trade, and it will be used for the Hilton HHonors loyalty program.

The new corporate identity will be promoted via HHonors ads planned for next year. “[The HHonors brand] is one that we have been the least ambitious about spending money on marketing as a brand, and that is one of the reasons for this change,” said Brown. “An advantage that we believe Hilton Worldwide has had is that we have built very distinct consumer brands, and that is critically important that we keep those as distinct brands. However we want to make sure that the linkage to the HHonors program is clear to the customers that care about that.”

The majority of consumer-facing efforts will be done through the individual hotel brands rather than the corporate brand. Hilton spent $103 million on advertising in 2008, and has spent $36 million over the first six months of this year, per Nielsen.

This has been a busy year for Hilton. The company launched the Home2 Suites extended stay brand this past January, and according to Brown it has exceeded expectations. There have been 40 applications for franchisees approved and 25 in the pipeline, with the first property to be launched in June of 2010.

“We have taken a very clear stance to making the design of the rooms extremely economical — it uses very little land, and it is also in the sweet spot from a financing standpoint where the total cost of the building is within what people are able to get financing for today,” said Brown.

The future remains unclear for Hilton’s upscale Denizen brand, which was put on hold after a lawsuit from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide was filed earlier this year. Brown said that, “we are committed to launching a brand in the lifestyle space, but what that brand is obviously to be determined at this point.”

Nielsen Business Media