Hotel chains appear determined to own single-letter trademarks anymore. Yes, the lodging industry appears headed toward serving up a regular bowl of alphabet soup you might say. Do you recognize any of these single letter hotel marks?
In case you’re wondering, the inspiration for this post came from Holiday Inn’s re-branding effort with the above H logo. A three-year re-branding effort that apparently started back in 2007, but has only recently shown itself in suburban Minneapolis. It got me thinking how Holiday Inn must have had single-letter trademark envy to move in this truncated direction because when I think of single-letter hotel brands, only W comes to mind (at least before starting this post).
W Hotels has done a very nice job with its branding, it seems to me, especially with the recent remodel of historic Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis. It’s interesting, however, that W seems unmoved by a host of others using and registering “its letter” in connection with other hotels, here (Wyndham), here (Woodfin), here (Chickasaw Nation), here (The Westbury in London), here (Watermark), and here (Willard), especially since Starwood, the owner of W Hotels, owns the letter W as a trademark without any type or style limitations. Perhaps W is unmoved because at least some of these appear to predate W, begging the question of how Starwood was able to register the letter W with no type or style limitations in the first place.
In addition, Holiday Inn is certainly not the only or the first with a hotel or plans for a hotel to think about truncating its name to the single letter H in a trademark and logo, see here (Hilton), here (Hersha), here (Hansa Urbana), here (Hearthstone), here (Haute), here (Heritage), and here (Heidi Klum).
Turns out, lots of other hotels have truncated their names into single-letter logos too, which makes me wonder about what the scope of their respective rights might be.
Having said that, some letters may not be well-suited for hotel branding at all. Given that hotels are routinely graded (typically on number of stars), I haven’t checked, but I assume the letters B through D and F are available, for obvious branding reasons. And, sorry Gatorade, flanking the flunking or failing letter F, at least in Malasia, G appears taken, and Westin recently grabbed a stylized E, with Carlisle taking an interest in E too, not to mention Embassy Suites and its E.
As you may have guessed, Renaissance is not the only R out there in the hotel world (here (Ramada), here (Ravel), here (Regent), here (Registry), and here (Rockresorts)), but U Hotels & Resorts appears to be surprisingly unique, as does O Hotel. So, here we may have identified at least one caution for Oprah to consider carefully, down the road, in the event she sets her sights on extending her brand of O into the hotel industry.
Last, but certainly not least, as Gatorade must have learned when it truncated to G, blogged previously here, it is not easy to own a single-letter as a trademark, at least one that enjoys any meaningful scope.