An Inside Look at Our New Brand Identity

By Dorothy Dowling

Wednesday August 3, 2016

Nothing is more important than listening to the customer. That concept has been at the heart of Best Western® Hotels & Resorts for seventy years, and because we’re a hotel brand that has always been driven by the voices of both our customers and hoteliers, we feel it’s what sets us apart. By understanding and responding to their needs, we are able to gain their trust and ultimately grow a loyal customer base. Business aside, it’s simply the right thing to do.

Respecting the wishes of our customers and hoteliers was the driving force behind Best Western’s brand refresh, a project that involved updating our master brand identity and creating exciting new logos, signs and more for our Best Western®, Best Western Plus® and Best Western Premier® hotels worldwide. For two years, we worked persistently to deliver on what our hoteliers and customers requested, and in November 2015 this transformative refresh, or Great Refresh, was launched.

I’m honored to have been involved in this rebranding effort and am proud of my talented team for working so diligently throughout the entire process. I’m energized by the new look and feel of our brand, and it is gratifying to know that our work has been so widely embraced, even being ranked No. 1 in Time Magazine’s list of top logo changes in 2015. Still, if I had to choose my own personal high point of the brand refresh, it would be working with our customers, partners and hoteliers in this effort. After countless days and nights listening to their concerns and needs, we achieved something that everyone can be proud of.

Our new brand identity more accurately reflects the diversity and contemporary style of today’s Best Western. The logos and new signage are modern and stylish and, more importantly, fill a variety of purposes that I will elaborate on below. However, we didn’t create or update these logos on behalf of Best Western. No matter what phase the brand refresh was in, we were all working, as we always do, to fulfill the wishes of our hoteliers and customers.
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Logos with a Purpose

Certainly, our hoteliers and customers wanted something eye-catching. After all, Best Western hotels are found in over 100 countries worldwide and in diverse locations including historic buildings, beachside resorts, downtown skyscrapers, and conveniently located alongside thousands of roadways. However, aesthetics was only a small factor in designing our new logos.

“Form follows function.” That is a phrase heard in virtually every architectural firm, but it also applied to Best Western’s brand refresh. It means that an object’s shape or form should be determined by its primary function or overall purpose. Our new logos needed to be stylish, modern and iconic, but they also had to be useful.

Our hoteliers and customers helped us identify four main objectives for the brand’s new identity:

1) Best Western’s new logos had to signal change. For over two decades, Best Western had a logo that was powerful, trusted and familiar, but it did not reflect the tremendous revolution our brand had experienced in the past five years. By the end of 2016, our hotels will have invested $2 billion to improve their properties. We introduced new hotel types, including Vib®, GloSM, Executive Residency by Best WesternSM and BW Premier Collection®, to meet the needs of today’s traveler while continuing to provide exemplary customer care. We needed an identity that reflected Best Western’s remarkable evolution and progress.

2) Best Western’s new logos also had to be contemporary and relevant, broaden the brand’s appeal into new markets, and encourage former and new guests to stay with us. In 30 years of marketing, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to always look at the size and scale of your market. For decades, the Baby Boomer Generation was the most dominant, economically. But while the Boomers continue to have a powerful voice in the marketplace, the demographic of today’s traveler is shifting towards younger generations, like the Millennials and Generations X and Z. So, no matter what generation our guests found themselves in, our logos had to connect with them.

3) Best Western’s new identity also needed to be relevant to the digital world. There is no denying that we live in a world that is becoming more digital by the minute. The vast majority of our business is booked through electronic channels, including our new mobile site and award-winning website, and that share will assuredly increase in the future. Our logos needed to work on every screen, whether it is on desktop, tablet, smartphone or wearable devices.

4) Finally, our customers and hoteliers have been asking for us to create more distinction between our legacy hotel brands: Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier. Every brand underneath the Best Western Hotels & Resorts master brand deserves to stand out in its own distinct way. To accomplish that, unique logos were developed to accurately represent the identity that each hotel type offers our valued guests and partners.BWHR_logo_gradient_657x438

Moving Forward

While Best Western’s hoteliers voted in favor of the new logos and branding last November, the Great Refresh is far from coming to a close. We continue to work closely with hoteliers to reach our goal of installing 1,000 new signs in North America by the end of this year and new signs on every Best Western hotel by the end of 2017.

As our new logos become more prevalent and familiar around the world, I can’t help but reflect about the sign that is, in turn, being taken down. That shield and crown logo played an integral role in Best Western’s story, representing us as we became a much more recognized brand worldwide and broadened our appeal to millions of new potential travelers.

Our former logo is iconic, but that is not just because it was lit up in front of every Best Western. So much of the credit is due to everyone in the Best Western family, past and present. For 70 years, they were the ones who listened to all of our guests and ultimately made Best Western Hotels and Resorts a brand that’s trusted throughout the world. We made one symbol recognizable the world over, and now, it’s time to do it again.