Best Western is on a mission to own midscale and it will seek to do so amid remodeled logos and branding.
In the span of only five years, the member organization has grown from one single brand to a total of six. At its 2015 convention in Honolulu, it unveiled a seventh brand, GLō, to go after the boutique midscale segment, a space President and CEO David Kong called unoccupied.
And yet while the announcement of a new brand usually is the biggest proclamation at a brand conference, it played second fiddle to a complete reworking of the former Best Western International's brands and logos.
Now known as Best Western Hotels & Resorts, the venerable brand will also now have a new master logo, along with new logos for its three descriptors, Best Western, Plus and Premier, after going two decades with the current one.
As Kong said, the current logo didn't match what Best Western had become over the past 10 years with him at the helm, and where it is going.
"The current logo doesn’t give credit to who we are today," Kong said. "We are a fresh, vibrant brand and have earned the right to have new logos.
"All companies need to periodically signal something different and exciting."
The new logos were based on three main elements: 1) signaling improvements to consumers; 2) differentiating descriptors; and 3) showing the brands are contemporary and relevant.
After all, as Dorothy Dowling, SVP of marketing and sales, said, "Our brand was described as a dowdy old woman; your grandfather’s Oldsmobile."
Now, the master brand and descriptors have been remade over a two-year process to emphasize a new and modern era for Best Western.
Here are the highlights of the new logos:
The Best Western Hotels & Resorts masterbrand logo pulls through the company’s current blue color, updated with a modern hue and uses a hand-drawn lettering which was created to be contemporary, friendly and memorable.
The Best Western Plus logo picks up on the brand’s traditional use of red, incorporates the signature lettering and draws more emphasis to the word “Plus” using a tapered underline. The diamond shape, inspired by the shape of a mobile app, distinguishes it from the Best Western hotel brand logo by giving it a more premium look within the upper midscale segment.
The Best Western Premier logo employs a monogram and uses a mixed classic/contemporary font along with design elements "to exude elegance and style." A tapered line ties it to the Best Western master brand.
The new logos are targeted to be employed in 2016, though they still need to go through a member vote. Ron Pohl, SVP of brand management, said he was confident it would pass.
“All of our properties worldwide will be coordinating signage and logo implementation, with a critical mass being completed for the launch of our advertising campaign in early summer 2016,” said Pohl.
In GLō, Best Western said it identified a void in the midscale space devoted to boutique, which will seek to "smash" through what Best Western calls "the suburban cookie-cutter hotel mold."
The new-construction midscale brand is targeted for secondary, suburban and highway locations, costs around $65k per key to build and has an average daily rate in the neighborhood of $90. The design calls for 70 rooms over four stories.
“We looked at the segmentation of boutique hotels and realized GLō would fill a void because of the lack of a boutique product in the broad midscale segment,” said Kong.
GLō is not being considered a conversion product due to some of its unique design attributes, which include center-loaded bathrooms, a technique that can save some 50 square feet of space in construction costs.
Like Vīb, Best Western's upper-midscale lifestyle product, the GLō brand is being designed out by Houston-based EDI International.
Kong said GLō should have a faster ramp up than Vīb, which currently has seven signed deals and around 11 others being worked on.
“With the demand we are seeing for this broad-midscale boutique brand, coupled with the lower barrier to entry costs of secondary and suburban markets, we expect GLo development to ramp up very quickly,” Pohl reiterated.
As the name implies, the brand is much about light. GLo’s architecture and design employ LED elements, such as on the side of the building and in the glowing blue scarf, providing what Kong called a "beacon." A “Lite Brite” wall greets guests outside and extends inside behind the glowing welcome desk. During the day, alternating blue and gold window panes add more emphasis to light.
Kong added that the addition of Vīb and GLō have attracted new developers to the company, ones they hadn't worked with in the past. "That was part of our consideration for launching the brands," Kong said.
While the audience was understandably piqued by the brand and logo refresh and announcement of a new brand, other matters were also presented.
At the time of conference, Best Western said it had 4,100 hotels in more than 100 countries with projected 2015 revenue of $1.5 billion.
In addition, there will be a total investment of $2 billion by the end of 2016 in property improvements and renovations by North American Best Western hotels.
Meanwhile, Best Western's international pipeline totals 290 hotels.
But as Pohl pointed out, the Best Western family of brands needs to add more hotels and quicker. He pointed to Best Western's supply-wise disadvantage in markets such as New York, Chicago and Dallas. "We need more downtown and airport location hotels," Pohl said.
In an attempt to improve its position, Pohl told the audience about a ballot proposal to edit the member market area or impact radius: the amount of Best Western-branded hotels allowed in a certain area; in this case, a 10-mile radius.
"In major urban markets it should be smaller," Pohl said, alluding to, perhaps, 3 miles. A vote on the measure will take place in November.
Best Western is also redesigning its digital platform, including bestwestern.com, the mobile website and mobile applications.
In August, new property websites were created for over 2,000 properties across North America and just last week, Best Western launched its new mobile booking experience, including a mobile website and mobile apps. In early spring 2016, Best Western will unveil its entirely new bestwestern.com.