Holiday Inn signs - now and then


On Dinosaurs and Robots we like to feature side-by-side photos of familiar products and signs that have changed over time (usually for the worse, sadly). The Holiday Inn sign is the latest in our "Then and Now" series, spotted by Kevin Kidney.

Then and Now


  1. I, for one, really dislike their new logo. It seems really senseless to throw away the old logo in exchange for that one. The new one’s not very eye-catching or memorable. An update to the old would have been better.

  2. I think sometimes change is important and I do as a rule prefer modernist logos to other styles. However, the new logo (hardly modernist in any case) is terrible while the old one evokes the kind of nostalgia you’d think a hotel chain may want.

  3. And do you think Wild Honey would ever appear under that new sign? There’s no marquee! How do you know which quality acts are playing?

  4. I can see how the old sign might evince a bad reaction from the majority of people who would likely deem it old or seedy-looking, but the new one reminds me of the bland, nonspecific, family-safe packaging on bars of soap. But I guess people who travel often like the security that blandness provides – ‘no surprises at the Holiday Inn!’ is what that says.

  5. The new one is slicker, but it mutes the following exchange: “(Whachu doin?) Nothing chillin at the Holidae In”

  6. @6– You know, an element of surprise is not generally something I look for in a hotel. The new sign still sucks, though.

  7. I wish Holiday Inn would return to their grand old signs. New signs = New Coke. I’m sure the old signs cost a bundle to make and maintain, but they were icons on the American roadway. Every time they change their signs they make things much worse. The flash and garrishness of the old signs caught your eye. The new signs induce yawns and if you blinked while driving down the roaqd you’d probably miss the hotel. I want neon tubes and chaser lights!

  8. I like the first one too, but it does carry a hint of “old cigarette smell and possible bedbug infestation.” Sterility is boring, but if you’re trying to get someone to book a conference at your hotel it’s much more lucrative.

  9. Typographically, the new logotype is actually quite nice — but the big ‘H’ is a pale, pale shadow of the gentle richness that was the “carnation” (introduced somewhere in the decades between the two signs shown in Mark’s post).

    Why they couldn’t keep the flower and update only the script, I may never understand.

  10. The old sign says “Family”, “Fun”, “America”, and will always remind me of the end of Poltergeist. The new sign simply says “Hello, conventioneers!”

  11. I suspect that the new sign was designed by the same agency that designed the new Shell Oil, er, I mean BP signs. Suspiciously similar.

  12. The marketing department probably convinced them to undergo a brand makeover to make them more corporate. The letter “H” swish makes for a good thumbnail and is highly presentable logo on the Internet. The old signs do have a lot of charm so I’ll miss them.

  13. The new sign looks like a plastic passkey, or maybe a note scribbled on an index card. It has all the excitement of a bowl of cold oatmeal. Did they import the designers from Soviet-era Russian planning committees?

    Maybe the old one could be updated, but it still speaks of much more happiness than this new dreck.

  14. Somebody got paid to redesign this. PUH-AYED! And prolly lots o” chedda!

    It is completely devoid of character. Think of the amount of work it took to make something that looks so generic. I doubt a graphics program could have generated something so invisible in the strip mall landscape.

  15. The earlier sign seems more friendly than the latter. the latter seems like a hospital or factory sign.

  16. Cut them some slack… They wanted to look more like a hotel than a motel. It’s quite a contrast from the old sign but compared to other big hotel chain logos it’s quite expressive.

  17. Ah, the neon, the chase lights. A sign that would beacon from miles away at the end of a tiring drive.

    I miss the old sign.

  18. If you love old signs (like I do), make sure you hit up the Sign Museum in Cinci, Ohio.

    I was there this summer, and the guided tour by the owner is without peer …

  19. As a young boy, when I was literate but before I was taught to write script/cursive, I would always read the old sign as “Holiday Gun.” The short tail on the “I” makes it look like a backwards “G” and most folks’ script “n”s often look like “u”s, and here is no exception.

    Weird, huh?

  20. The old sign brings back memories of checking in with the parents then rushing madly down to the games room. Those days are gone … for good and bad.

  21. Holiday Inn introduced the “daisy” logo in 1982, replacing the iconic and original Holiday Inn logo. The logo was designed by S&O Consultants, if I remember correctly. SIGNS OF THE TIMES magazine did a cover story on the changeover, keying on the new flexible sign material that was utilized in the new signs.
    When the original Holiday Inn signs were taken down by a sign company, they had to sign an affadavit that they had destroyed the sign. This was typical of the specs for a new sign program.
    The American Sign Museum has two-thirds of an original sign: the base and middle section. The top tower and arrow were lost, according to Young Electric Signs of Las Vegas, which donated the sign to the museum.
    The museum also has an 8-ft. miniature version of the sign which was donatd by Tom Cummings, Jr. (deceased) of Cummings, Inc., Nashville. Cummings, Inc. probably manufactured about 90-95% of all of the original signs. The 8-ft. model, we were told, is a one-of-a-kind piece which Cummings designed and fabricated for Holiday Inn to take to tradeshows and PR events.
    There is much controversy over who designed the original Holiday Inn sign. The museum conducted interviews with both Tom Cummings, Jr. as well as the mother of Frank Balton, who is credited with designing the original sign. The fact is that Cummings started out working for Frank Balton who had a sign company in Memphis (In fct, that are three different “Balton Sign”–all related–companies with origins in Memphis). Ironically, he later bought Frank out and set-up Cummings, Inc. in Nashville, taking the Holiday Inn account with him. Cummings claims that he designed the original sign, though the museum’s hunch is that it was actually Frank Balton.
    The museum conducted an interview with Holiday Inn founder, Kemmon Wilson (deceased) in early 2000. Wilson credits the sign with much of the success of his Holiday Inn chain.

  22. The new sign is an eye-sore. It looks cheap. It likes like an invitation to neglect and cockroaches.

    I can understand the budgetary reasons for going to a new sign – the old one must be a maintenance nightmare. But it’s gorgeous. It’s informative. It’s classic.

    You can’t tell from the new one if it’s a gas station, a strip mall, an office park, a hospital, or what. If it was late and I was thinking of stopping at a hotel overnight, I’d probably miss it because it’d take me too long to realize what it was.

  23. The old signs are such classics. It’s truly a shame to see them disappear. On the other hand, they were nightmares to maintain and keep running. All that fragile neon. The painted metal structure that fades rather quickly, or develops rust spots. And the hit on the electric bill to keep them lit.

    I would be impressed if HI corporate had spent some money to investigate re-vamping the classic sign using more durable materials and make them economical to illuminate. Somehow, I doubt they invested anything in that direction.

    The new signs are…efficient. Clean. Corporate. Blah.

  24. Link to a link to a link, my favorite style of internet! Also I love incorporating these H-logos (mostly hotels) into my signature!

  25. The Holiday Inn sign was designed at Balton & Sons in Memphis. I do not think it was the brain child of one designer. I have heard that the colors were choosen because they were Kemmons Wilson’s mother’s favorite colors. Cummings bought out Balton & Sons. The rights to that name is now back in the hands of Jeff and Scott Balton, who run Precision Signs (www.precisionsign). Frank Balton Sign Co. ( is also operated by members of the Balton family.

    Being the daughter of an architect who did Holiday Inns, I also know that the Great Sign started to phase out in the early 70’s. It was phased out because of cost, plus people then wanted a more modern look. I do love the old look!

  26. The old Holiday Inn signs were phased out due to their energy consumption. With the way we use LEDs now, I’d love to see someone recreate the old sign with the energy efficiency of LEDs. Matbe a throwback ;)

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