Let’s explore branding for casinos and retailers who live by sales, yet still want to build a brand. Branding for marketers who need to be shrewd with their ad dollars, yet still want to leave a lasting impression. We’ll call it Brand Momentum. It suggests there is a place that will make the Gittomers of the world happy, and, sooner than you think, give you a valuable position in the marketplace.
There’s a lot being said and written about maintaining a consistent brand. While some consider it to be a straitjacket, others see it as a way to save time and money and apply hard and fast rules to their brand.
The truth is consistency is critical to branding. But it’s all wasted effort if you can’t make it work with the reality of your business. And careful thought must be put into where and how consistency is applied.
The Casino business seems to naturally want to fight with brand consistency. It is wildly competitive both for share of the gaming profit pool and even more competitive with the share of the entertainment profit pool. This often causes reactive marketing and requires quick turnaround for promotions and advertising.
Add that to the fact that gamblers have a strong tendency to look for the newest and latest, the brightest and shiniest, and you create constant tension between the need for consistency and the need to be new. After all, a brand, especially entertainment brands like Casinos, need to excite audiences regularly.
Branding: Think Momentum
Where marketers and sales people often clash is on the notion of consistency. The marketer strives to keep a brand consistent, while a sales person is always looking for a new angle, new excitement. Both are trying to accomplish the same goal, but can end up fighting with each other. For sales to see the value in branding, we must move beyond the soft ideas, like colours and taglines, and into hard ideas. Simply, you need to re-brand your view of branding.
Let’s look at what typically happens with a company over the course of a year. You start with big plans. Sales and marketing get together and make a plan. You point your big promotional machine in that direction. At that point, it’s pretty clear who you are and where you’re going.
Enjoy that moment, because what happens next is reality. The distractions start to show up: food and beverage have just introduced a new chef and want to get the word out; the entertainment line-up needs more promotion; The Casino is partnering with a local company to promote football; there’s a poker tournament; the Player’s Club has a membership drive. And away you go.
At the end of the year, if you took the time to look back and see the sum of all your marketing, the picture would not look familiar. Not to you, your Food & Beverage person, and certainly not to the public.
So what the hell is a marketing director to do?
Now imagine branding in a completely different way. Not as a series of campaigns and promotions. Not as logos, taglines or a set of brand colours—in fact, let go of the word branding altogether. Let’s look at the one thing you really have going for you – and the one thing you need to get from point A to point B: momentum.
The principle of momentum
Imagine your brand is a car. You need to move it. The first thing you need to do is pick a direction. So naturally, you put your marketing efforts behind the car and start to push. In an ideal world, that’s branding. The car is the brand, and your marketing is the horsepower pushing it to its destination. But there’s more than just marketing that adds horsepower: player relations, public relations, food & beverage, maybe an entertainment manager or Human Resources. If you are all pushing in the same direction it’s not going to take too long to get moving. Heck you could even turn a corner, go somewhere else…as long as you go together.
But we are getting way ahead of ourselves. Let’s start by picking a direction and pushing the car. First let’s find out where we are and where we want to go.
Step 1: Grow where you’re planted.
Find your philosophy
It starts by answering the question, “What are you about?” Or as mom says: you gotta grow where you’re planted. You are what you are. If you can discover that and define it in a sexy way, you’re already ahead of the game.
Look for an active a philosophy. Not a weak tagline that says nothing, but rather something you can hang on the door and say; that’s what I’m here for.
For Casino Regina the active philosophy is Always Entertaining. What do they do as a company? They entertain. From casino games, to restaurant and bar to the shows they present, they are always entertaining. What does a staff member do? He or she entertains, making sure the guests are enjoying themselves. It’s a statement something everyone in the organization can embrace.
“We’ve got it all” or “We’re the best”, type statements, common to so many sectors, do not resonate as true to anyone, except perhaps the sales staff who firmly believe they are best. But those statements are relative. Best casino in the city? It’s hard to build momentum with broad generic claims.
Simple, active statements like Seneca Niagara Casino’s The fun never stops, or Foxwoods Resort Casino’s The Wonder of It All are much more appealing. Harrah’s, for example, has one of the boldest forms of an active statement. It’s really an exclamation. It is highly emotionally charged and works on many levels. Harrah's, oh yeah!
The statement needs to be about the product.
What are you for?
Define it simply and boldly.