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177. EconoLodge New Identity.

econo.jpgIt must be logo season or something. One more major identity redesign has surfaced, though not nearly as big-name as Wal*Mart. Econolodge launched a new logo design in May at Choices’ 53rd Annual Convention. (Choice Hotels International owns hotels under the names of Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, etc.)

The new design is being promoted by a somewhat awful, animated ad that you can see here and is part of an 18-month rollout.( The very similar banner ad is embedded at the bottom of this post.) By December, a ‘comprehensive brand re-imaging package’ will be introduced. I can only assume this means new interior/architecture design for the hotels that will somehow match the new logo. All of the identities within the entire Choice hotel line are fairly... well, fairly bad. Most feature these odd swooshes and arcs that mean nothing and communicate little about their particular way of doing business. So, I didn’t expect much from EconoLodge, which is a good thing.

Some Of The Choice Hotels:


I have very fond memories of EconoLodge. It’s one of the few places cheap enough for my somewhat-cheap dad to stop and stay during summer vacations or long trips that didn’t include a relative’s living room floor. (And when we didn’t just camp out in the back of the pickup.) Even when we’d stop at EconoLodge, he’d only buy a one-bed room, and we kids would sneak in and get the floor. The EconoLodges we stayed at were always bare-bones rooms with mis-matching curtains and ugly carpet; but that was part of the fun. In our world we couldn’t have imagined a Wyngate let alone a Four-Seasons. They were all too fancy for our econo-lifestyle. And that’s probably why I have a bad reaction to the new logo. It’s trying to be something it’s not: a glossy, shiny, modern place to stay. I can understand the decision to try and elevate the brand, make the hotels nicer and the rooms more comfortable, but as long as it’s called the EconoLodge, the identity should in some way reflect that name and the experience. The old logo could have easily been updated a bit to build on the strengths of the chain itself. A simple place to stay. But instead, it comes off like it’s pretending somehow.  

The New Identity Design:


Some particular gripes have to start with the little sparkle on the icon. Things have gone too far when we actually get a sparkle designed-into the logo itself. This is not a good thing at all people, and I feel like it’s only the beginning. Also, the new typeface (some sort of myriad condensed?) set in one word, isn’t an improvement over the old and feels squished into the red field. The icon/mark doesn’t add anything at all to the logo itself, besides tying it into the Choice family and lending a superficial quality to the whole thing. Here’s a snippet from the news release, which sheds some light on the subject: “The more inviting, bright logo, a result of extensive consumer research, is a culmination of a wealth of enhanced brand standards and guest satisfaction programs geared to position the brand for long-term growth and success.” Inviting. Bright. Consumer Research. Eek. Somehow this solution is lacking the intangible something that makes a mark feel like it belongs to the brand and is a huge missed opportunity. There was a better approach to take with this brand, though it would have required more courage from the company itself. And surprisingly, I think I miss that left-justified type. (No word yet on who is responsible for the new look.)


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