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Is Bigger Better for the Reno Hotel Business?

In America bigger is always better. Well, not always, but we like to do things really really big. In some situations going smaller rather than bigger can bring in a bit of class to a situation. Small is less braggadocio and often times feels more confident, but when it comes to signage, well, small is more often hard on the eyes and difficult to read or comprehend.

One of the big hotels here in Reno recently changed ownership. The Hilton is now known as the Grand Sierra Resort. The signage for the Hilton was big and bold. No mistaking that:


But over the past couple of weeks, under the new ownership, the Hilton Logo has come down and the logo for the Grand Sierra Resort has been put in its place:


Does that itty bitty logo seem right to you? I first tried to take a picture using my cell phone. No zoom of course, but the logo was too small to even register on the picture. The place where the logo is appeared empty. File that under, way too small!

Here is what I would have done:


What do you think? Is bigger better?

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

24 Responses to Is Bigger Better for the Reno Hotel Business?

  1. Seth Tachick says:

    It’s funny because when I asked my roommate what he thought of the new “GSR logo”, he looked at me with this puzzled look on his face and replied “it says GSR??? I thought is was an eyeball or something!” Yeah, so if their gonna make such an obscure logo, they could at least make it nice and big!

  2. Jason says:

    It is indeed way too small for that building. Not only that, it’s practically illegible and means nothing to visitors to Reno. The logo could stay, but on the top of the building, the name should be spelled out so that people who don’t know what GSR means could have a clue.

  3. Ben says:

    This logo is ridiculous. Whomever was retained on the PR/Ad/Marketing side of life that created this non-descript logo should be sent back to UNR’s Reynold’s School of Journalism to take a 200 level Visual Communications class to get a grip on how logos are meant to act as beacons, not ubiqutious symbols of mystery. No matter what is done to this particular logo, no matter it’s size, it does not convey a meaning or story to potential visitors. Soon, the Hilton site will be regarded by visitors (a dwindling number at that) as “that weird building near the airport” and not as a place where money is to be spent on “world-class hotel/condominimus.”

  4. Beth says:

    I agree!! I don’t like that little blob that you can’t even see at night when it’s lit up! I keep thinking that maybe they are going to add something to it but even thier signs when you enter the parking lots have little bity logos. Oh well. Despite what it’s beign called now, I still refer to it as MGM sometimes!!!

  5. Bryce says:

    You used to be able to see the Hilton – well the sign’s unique red color at least – from the top of Geiger Grade. Now, you have to be practically at Mill and Terminal to see the poorly designed, too small for a large building – logo. Give them about 10 years and we will hear about the upcoming implosion of the Grand Sierra or whatever iteration the building will be then.

  6. J. says:

    And if you drive by and look closely, it’s actually off-center. Skewed too far to the right, looks like. But I’m sure that’s no indication of the way the rest of the property will turn out, right? I mean, it’s only their sign…

  7. Eileen says:

    I’ve lived here all my life, and have always thought fondly of the MGM ( I still call it that too!). The logo is terrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I work in marketing, and from that standpoint, if you are advertising to visitors/tourists, you need to cleary state what you are – i.e a Hotel!!! Even some locals I’ve spoken with don’t know what GSR means. It is too small, unclear and all around bad marketing. Don’t worry, I’m sure it will be something like a Marriott within two years! It won’t last long as the Grand Sierra.

  8. Pamela M. says:

    I think the MGM…oops….I mean ‘GSR’ needs to not be so hot to purchase logo shapes off the clearance rack! I can’t believe that with condos on the top floor selling at $400,000+, they couldn’t afford to hire a competent marketing staff. Did they not measure the side of the building before going to “Signs-R-Us” ?!?!?!?!

  9. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    I’m OK with the logo, in fact I like it. My only beef is the size of the logo on the building. Too small, too difficult to discern, and it’s even worse at night when its lit up with just outlines of the letters. Making it bigger would fix all of that. Its simply too small for the space.

  10. Beatrice says:

    Do you all really think the old western-style lettering was better? It’s nice to know some of Reno’s hicks are really showing their red necks!

    I’d like to be the first to say the “I like the logo!” It reminds me of something I might see in LA, Vegas or Miami. I completely agree that the size of the logo is too small on the building (double the current size would be best.)

    Has anyone seen the GSR outdoor boards? The logo is large and striking. Remember, change makes you stronger 🙂 Be Positive

  11. Chris says:

    I have to agree with Beatrice. The logo should definitely be bigger on the building, but it is nice looking. It’s sleek. It’s different. It’s distinctive. I think it creates a little mystique. No other property in this town would ever have the guts to put something on their building that could create thought or discussion. Not everything has to be so literal, guys. I’m no marketing guru, but I am a businessman and I know enough to know that the advertising will support the story of the logo. It doesn’t need to spell everything out. If Reno wants to play in the big leagues, properties have to be bold enough to think outside the little box we call the Truckee Meadows. But that’s coming from a California implant, so what do I know anyway.

  12. Jill says:

    The logo is just too small for the building, it’s true. But maybe it’s part of some fancy exterior redesign to come. Maybe it’s a misguided attempt to be subtle. Either way, it’s got us talking. And for all you “marketing professionals” out there, what is it you say? There’s no such thing as bad publicity?

  13. George Morgen says:

    All of you “marketing geniuses” have nothing to worry about. I think the small, clearance-rack logo on the building is a cost saving measure… it will be much cheaper to remove in one year when it’s not the Grand Sierra anymore.

  14. Jon Glenwell says:

    Man, I can’t believe all the pinheads that are actually standing up for this thing. I mean, it ain’t really even a logo. It’s three letters poorly manipulated in like photoshop. Really, it’s not hard to do. Requires little skill or imagination. Any trained monkey can do it. I think this “designer” monkey probably could have achieved the same effect using microsoft word or powerpoint or, for extra bananas, excel.

    Back in the day, before I got into the automotive sales business, I considered pursuing marketing/graphic design as a career. I took several intro level classes in graphics and layout at Cal State Fullerton. In one one of them I recall the professor discussing people’s willingness to accept as new, images and ideas they’ve been preconditioned to embrace as a result of saturated media exposure and the collective will of our consumer culture.

    The folks who find favor with this thing like it because it’s familiar, they’ve seen it before. We’ve all seen it before. Ski resorts, shampoo bottles, designer clothing and fragrances, I’ll stop there. It doesn’t challenge people or surprise them or make them think. Aside from being too small on a building, it actually makes no waves, it just blends in and is amazing only in its forgetability. No one’s thinking outside of any boxes on this one. It’s been done before. It’s been done better. And, in some cases, it’s been done worse. It raises no bars, it clears no bars. Heck, it doesn’t even pretend to be business of even jumping.

    Really, can anyone honestly say that this absurd little graphic bit actually evokes any emotion, conjures any sort of top-drawer, big-world yearnings?

    But it does accomplish one thing. It embodies everything the Grand Sierra Resort seems to stand for: A lack of original thought. A lack of context. A lack of meaningful vision. A shallow, over-blown, under-whelming attempt to be chic and hip and cooler than the rest of the kids. Kind of reminds me of the attitude that came with the dot.com crazy.

    Let’s don’t go all condo, just yet.

  15. Rhonda says:

    Interesting that you wrote about this – I guess it never really registered with me on a concious level that I didn’t care for the logo. But after reading your article I became aware that I’ve always thought the the logo looks somehow “incomplete”……. Great observation!

  16. Eric says:

    It’s important to remember that GSR has a seven year plan to add new construction, facades, and attractions to the existing property. Give the group a break. I personally know people who have worked there well over 25 years (back when the MGM opened in 1977), and they have all said this owner has moved faster and more decisively than any previous owner of the property.

    I for one, being a Reno native, am excited that a private group has the guts to do something risky by not making gaming the crux of their development in Reno. I’m not particularly interested in waterparks per se, but if you want to see Northern Nevada diversify its economic situation, this is a hopeful step in the right direction.

  17. Kathie says:

    I agree with some of the above, this is just the first phase of the project. Nobody looked at the Main Sign to see that it was under reconstruction and apparently there is more work to be done on the building and the sign. Sounds to me like a lazy sales person who lost the job and is upset over it so he would start this BLOG. I’m sure the project has a great deal of work to go, and the finished project will be great. Living in Reno and knowing the building, the larger rendendtion has to be 150 feet high, anybody think they would come close to getting a permitt for that work? I doubt it! After all it’s Reno and the largest piece there by far.

  18. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Sounds to me like a lazy sales person who lost the job and is upset over it so he would start this BLOG.

    Interesting take but wrong. Perhaps you should stick to comments related to the discussion and not on me or my reasons for starting this blog (several years ago, I might add) until you know something about both.

    Personally I’m excited to see the renovations that GSR plans for the building and the property, and while my photo shopped picture might be a bit big, I can’t image that GSR could not get permits to make their logo bigger on the side of the building OR that any renovations to the building are suddenly going to make the logo appear bigger than it is.

  19. Lei says:

    the sign is way small!!! how stupid must the owners be? if they want people to go there, they need reduce their rates, signs need to be bigger, and better personality!!!

  20. Kevin says:

    Nope. Looks too cheap and too “cosmo”.

    I won’t go there anymore, I don’t like the new image. They really need to add something too it unless all they want to attract is surgically modified female LA babyboomers.

    Maybe if they put a big color block behind it with some neon, it would really stand out and attract some customers… It’s just too sissy of an image now.

  21. Doc says:

    Someone commented, “They really need to add something to it unless all they want to attract is surgically modified female LA babyboomers.”

    Sorry to debunk a bit of effete local snobbery, but those L.A. babyboomers with sufficient discretionary capital to afford elective surgery likely won’t be there, or anywhere in Reno, for that matter. They have money, and accordingly, they have options. They will go to S.L.T. and stay in the premier rooms at Harrah’s or Harvey’s. Most of these Reno bloggers are highly impressed with their community, and it is an interesting town, but I have to say, economically, it is still the land of the big box store discount shoppers. It will take more than changing a few signs to attract upper tier leisure spenders from meto areas.

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