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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A picture can say a thousand words; so does a face. The same is probably true of non-verbal logos, including the several federally-registered “Chief Wahoo” logos, shown above (all apparently still in use by the “Cleveland Indians” professional baseball team, according to their latest trademark filings).

So, what do they say to you?

My take? I can think of quite a few words to describe them, but none includes the word “honor,” as is often the claim made by those in favor of keeping Native American mascots.

From my perspective, “Chief Wahoo” is the non-verbal equivalent of the Redskins racial slur that I blogged about last week.

Last month I blogged about Non-Verbal Logos That Can Stand Alone, and while “Wahoo” certainly can “stand alone” as a non-verbal logo, unlike the famous Nike Swoosh and McDonalds Golden Arches, “Wahoo” should simply “stand alone” in the corner of a dark closet with the door shut and locked.


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Memorial Day is another example of successful re-branding: Memorial Day apparently used to be called Decoration Day.

Although most appreciate and understand that this federal holiday since 1971 comes on the last Monday in May, there is a concern that “many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.” It is more than a three-day weekend, it is a day to remember those who have died in military service for our country.

After you have paid your respects on this Memorial Day, I have a suggestive branding challenge for you, below the jump, if you’re interested.


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Re-branding occurs all the time.

Re-branding occurs in business. Remember when Bell Atlantic became Verizon? Andersen Consulting became Accenture? How about when Philip Morris became Altria?

Re-branding occurs in politics too. Just days ago, Judson Berger discussed a kind of “re-branding madness” consuming Washington, D.C. right now: “Terrorist attack is out. — ‘man caused disaster’ is in.” Our friends at Catchword Branding had a lot of fun with the political re-branding of Swine Flu.

Re-branding even occurs in the world of professional sports. Remember when the NBA franchise Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards in 1997 out of concern that the Bullets name of some twenty-three years (1974-1997) had acquired “violent overtones”.  How about the recent re-branding from the Seattle Supersonics to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Even the NFL has decided to recognize Cincinnati Bengal Chad Johnson’s re-branding to Ocho Cinco.

Re-branding changes, according to Wikipedia, are “usually in an attempt to distance [the brand] from certain negative connotations of the previous branding.” So, given the widespread meaning and understanding of “redskin” as “offensive slang” and that it is “used as a disparaging term for a Native American,” given the pain the term has caused, and given that the team’s helmets sport a Native American profile and not a certain variety of spud on them, why won’t the Washington Redskins get on the re-branding bandwagon in our nation’s capital? After all, even one of the attorneys at the same law firm hired by the team apparently has spoken out, read about the details here.


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