Does the Perception of Your Brand Match Up to Your Expectations and Strategy? – Part II


How to refresh your brand

In the July 2016 Solutions Magazine, we talked about the importance of doing a brand assessment through research and online tools to determine what your current brand perception is among your players, the general market, and your in-house teams. Now we’ll take a practical look at exactly how to refresh your brand.

Let’s say your research has shown that your brand has become stale, generic or indistinguishable from your competition. Perhaps it has become disconnected from your customers or your product offerings. Or more importantly, the perception of your brand among your different audiences does not match up with your vision and aspirations. Time to get to work.

First you need to understand and state your position in the market. It’s who you are. It’s not a tagline, that comes later. Your position is your place in your customers’ lives (as far as leisure and entertainment). Are you a locals joint – a hangout, or an upscale weekend getaway on the beach? Are you “Las Vegas” in the middle of the Midwest? Take an honest look at your vision for your brand and see if it matches up with the realities of your product and service. The worst thing you can do is try and be something you are not.

From your position comes the new tagline. A simple line that tells people who you are. One of my favorites is “Where Locals Win,” which comes from a small, value-oriented locals casino in a saturated market of 800-lb. gorillas. This casino claims a position that is all-important to real players. Another good example is from a luxury casino that underwent a major expansion, adding a Four Diamond hotel, spa, concert theater, new restaurants and meeting space. Their tagline was “Redefining Spectacular,” and did it ever!

Now it’s time to develop new creative concepts to visually communicate your brand. There are a million different creative directions to go, but it’s critical to look like who you are. Will your creative be upscale and elegant, ultramodern and minimalist, classic and traditional, whimsical? Obviously if your property is rooted in a specific theme, like Route 66 or Margaritaville, you already have a basis for your creative concept, but can still influence the style.

Next, it’s time to build the photographic and film inventory you’ll need to produce all of the elements that will communicate your brand: Print ad concepts, TV and radio spots, website skin and updates, social pages, in-house signage and collateral, etc.

Start by taking a look at your existing photo and film library, and see what images you want to incorporate into the new brand campaign. Be on the lookout for outdated clothing and hairstyles, and check talent contracts to see if you still have the rights to use your current images. If you haven’t done a film or photo shoot in several years, chances are there’s not much to salvage from dated looks to just plain fatigue from being seen for so long.

Shooting new film and photos can be expensive and if budget is an issue, here are some tips. It’s better to do a small amount of shots really well than to try and do all the shots you think you need on a shoestring budget. Spreading your budget too thin will result in few usable shots overall. Prioritize your shot list – slots, gaming celebration, new amenities, hotel lifestyle, and so on. Don’t take shots of empty rooms, empty restaurants, empty casino floor. Your photography, like your creative, needs to invoke an emotional reaction from the audience to influence their opinion and behavior. Use professional actors and models, never employees for your subjects. We once had to redo an entire campaign the week after outdoor boards went up because an employee “actress” went to work for the competition. Ouch $$. Stock photography is a viable alternative, although understand that the less expensive casino shots are overused and the selection is limited. Good shots cost money, but will take your creative to another level.

Once you have the film and photographic images you need, the marketing pieces can be produced. Launch all elements at the same time and at a time that makes sense. Customers need time to warm up to new brand looks. Be sure that your leadership team is prepared for any knee-jerk negative comments that are made, especially on social media, which is a complainers’ heaven.

One final word, and that’s about logos. A new brand campaign doesn’t necessarily mean a new logo, and most times a new logo is not called for. Hopefully your logo is enduring and can be seamlessly incorporated into your new brand look. Changing a logo is very expensive when you consider every possible item your logo is attached to, from monument signage to napkins. The time to change or update your logo is when your product has changed. Take Starbucks, for example. In 2011, Starbucks updated their logo and took the word “Coffee” off of it because the company had moved into so many new product categories and would continue on this path. But they kept the core of the logo the same, which was a comfort to its customers.

Refreshing or rebranding your casino property is an involved process that needs to be thoughtfully done, based in real research and budgeted for. A refreshed brand look should be consistent across all communication channels to become strong and support your brand position.

Good luck and, as always, have fun with it!

Mark Astone