Trying my consumer’s hat on for size this Labor Day, I’ll ask the question: Would you pay good money and choose to stay a night or two in the hotel pictured above, without having a personal recommendation from a very, very good friend?

Me neither, says my wife, for our family.

Did the name have anything to do with your decision? In other words, might you be leery of weary desk clerks, eerie hallways, and dreary rooms, at the Drury Inn?

We were. Sorry, Drury Inn.

But, with far more cheery sounding and well-known national hotel brands readily available like Courtyard, Crown Plaza, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, Westin, Sheraton, Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, and Holiday Inn (or, should I say, H?), do you really blame us for our uninformed theory?

Remember my family road trip this past summer that revealed a trend toward single letter chewing gum brands and a discussion of non-verbal logos that can stand alone? Well, on that same trip, driving through the heartland, along the various interstates we traveled, we noticed Drury Inn after Drury Inn, a hotel chain we had never encountered before. We stayed a few nights in downtown St. Louis, near the above-pictured Drury Inn, but we never had the interest or courage to take a closer look.

Actually my wife felt even more strongly about it than I did, she thought that the various Drury Inns we saw (from the outside) looked and sounded, well, quite dreary. Apparently we aren’t the first to make the “dreary” word association with Drury Inn, especially among those who have expressed  online their rather negative experiences in spending nights and money (on the inside of one) (here, here, here, herehere, and here). One could say that deciding to use a name so easily a target for a hotel chain starts to make the resulting wounds look self-inflicted.

Sorry again, Drury Inn.

Recognizing the practice of many popular national hotel brands to select and adopt brand names that evoke feelings of comfort and pleasure (Courtyard, Holiday Inn, Days Inn, Sleep Inn, and Comfort Inn), I was left rather intrigued with the peculiar naming decision involving Drury Inn, at least enough to take a closer look online. Armed with a Wikipedia reference along with the hotel chain’s website, I was surprised to learn, having never head of the brand before, that it has been around since 1973, it has 130 locations in twenty states, and it has won some awards too.

Now, while Mr. Drury, and other family members, might defend use of the family name based on the recognized success and longevity of their business, someone less emotionally attached to the surname might ask where the business would be with a better brand name for a hotel chain.


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There is a growing interest and, quite frankly, a dogged persistence among branding professionals to select brand names that have the ability and potential to be “verbed.” This makes trademark attorney types nervous and those of the “Dr. No” variety actually become unglued.

So, why the emphasis or fascination with verbs anyway? The answer apparently can be found in the definition of a verb: “A verb is a doing word (helping, grabbing).” This feature is appealing to marketers. In addition, some argue that “verbing” a brand extends its reach through effective “word of mouth branding.” Some feel so strongly about the marketing benefit they argue that “having the public utter your company name as a verb is like going to heaven without the inconvenience of dying. Getting ‘verbed’ is the ultimate accomplishment for any brand — the marketer’s Shangri-la.”

As marketing maven Seth Godin argued as early as 2005: “Nouns just sit there, inanimate lumps. Verbs are about wants and desires and wishes.” Given that limited binary choice, David Cameron’s recent and thoughtful “Brandverbing Brands” post on his OnBrands Blog, asks a reasonable question: “Wouldn’t you rather have your brand in the latter category?”

I’m wondering and you might be wondering too, what happened to door number three? We’ll get to that, patience.


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