Brand equals image in today’s business world

Branding is the key strategy of 2004 and beyond. It seems as if branding, brand management, awareness and loyalty are everywhere. Books, lectures, courses and strategy abound. In fact, a recent search on Amazon.com yielded 57,183 “brand management” results. Talk about a hot topic!

Branding is not a new concept. It has been around since the dawn of business; but now it has a catchy name and a whole movement behind it. Most perceive brands as product descriptions, but they are more than just a name or logo used to describe a particular product. A brand can also be something much more powerful; it can describe an entire corporation. In that context, it is the brand that helps differentiate one company from another, one casino from another or one hotel from another.

Brands themselves also have become financial tools. Many companies have placed monetary values on their brands and thus include their brand as a routine part of their financial statements. Even though brand management is deeply rooted in marketing, it is also strongly tied to overall business operations.

Your brand is your image. Simply put, it is the way in which the world perceives you. Since that perception is what drives business to you, you must ensure that your brand is not only recognized but understood as well.

Though every industry benefits by understanding what their brand is and how they can improve on and market it, the casino industry seems to have a little more work to do in branding.

Casinos have a bit of a stigma associated with them. One does not usually think of a casino as a first-choice destination for the annual family getaway, but don’t tell the casinos that. Casino mentality has shifted overall; they are now promoting themselves as ideal places for all ages. Many casino advertising and marketing campaigns have images depicting families playing together poolside, children enjoying roller coaster rides and parents laughing over themed dinners with their children. Some may find such images confusing, but those who have vacationed at a casino recently can attest to the fact that there is much more to do than just plug quarters into a slot machine all day long. And there should be more to do.

The trick is to manage your brand. You want to appeal to a whole new set of clientele, while retaining your tried-and-true guests. Difficult, yes, but it’s not impossible.

Your brand is your identity. It is the first and, possibly, only way the public perceives you. Remember that proper brand management is controlled internally. Understanding that every one of your employees is crucial to your brand is essential. Employees are probably the biggest marketers of any organization, as they are the ones that come in contact with the outside world on a daily basis, from dealing with customers to handling vendors.

In order to make sure that your brand is communicated properly, you must first relay it to your internal team. For instance, if your casino/hotel is meant to be a place for everyone, families included, you would want to make sure that all of your employees understood that message and could thus effectively communicate that sentiment as well. For example, say you are trying to attract families. Your reservation agents should communicate to customers that your property iss suitable for all ages.

Brand management is something that not only takes thorough knowledge of the marketplace, but it also requires techniques such as being able to spot, analyze and respond to trends. In order to accomplish brand identification effectively, you must work at it.

Establishing your brand takes time; it is an evolution that does not happen automatically when you go into business. Though your name may be recognizable, it takes time to establish a brand and this begins once you have attained a certain status. From that point, you have entered a whole new realm in business. Any business, large or small, has the ability to delve into branding, as long as it is committed to doing so.

Brands are powerful tools. They can drive a business to success, and they can just as easily bring it to the brink of disaster without special care. Managing your brand is quite similar to managing your business. Always be cognizant of the fact that your brand is a valuable business asset—one that is tied to your reputation.