A brand is very important to the success of any enterprise. In my business — the casino business — it’s crucial.
Probably the most powerful brand over the years has been Caesars. The legendary company was founded by Jay Sarno in the 1960s. Sarno also developed the Circus Circus theme.
Sarno believed every guest should be treated like a Caesar, so he built the brand around that, including gladiators, over-the-top food and beverage, and a spectacular casino unmatched in its day, and he even brought in Cleopatra as a clincher. The company has changed hands multiple times over the decades, including the most recent transaction in which a small Reno company, Eldorado Resorts, bought the massive gaming company. The name will remain Caesars once again, testifying to the power of the brand.
In Boulder City, the Tourism Commission did a great job positioning the town as an escape from the frantic activity of Las Vegas with the slogan “A World Away for a Day.” Launched in 2005, it served ably for a time, but does it really say what visitors want to hear about Boulder City? And does it really attract visitors to our town? And, most importantly, has it worked in the almost 15 years since it was instituted?
The first thing you need to know about branding is that it’s not about the company, organization or destination. It’s about your customer and who you want to attract. If a customer doesn’t feel an affinity with the brand, they’re not going to respond to that brand’s appeal. And customers respond to brands they recognize. As a destination, you have to stand out against other brands that are seeking to attract the same customer.
Does “A World Away for a Day” really attract those people we want to visit? Or are we limiting ourselves to just the day-trippers? Should we be going after people who would stay multiple days? We have enough attractions to appeal to them. We’ve got the dam, the lake, the history of our town, Bootleg Canyon and more. We’ve got great restaurants and bars, unique hotels, bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs. So are these important elements of our town being neglected when our slogan seems to appeal simply to day-trippers?
Should we build more buzz around our events like Art in the Park, Dam Short Film Festival, Spring Jamboree and others? While those can appeal to day-trippers and multiple-day visitors, maybe we can extend the reach of those events by targeting the right market via branding.
In gaming, Caesars isn’t just Caesars. It’s a portfolio of brands that includes Harrah’s, Horseshoe, Bally’s and others. Maybe Boulder City can have multiple brands to appeal to different demographics and groups: live music fans, antique lovers, outdoor activities, history nerds.
I am obviously not a branding or marketing expert, but I know many of them. R&R Partners apparently helped devise the “A World Away for a Day” campaign. It’s still one of the top ad agencies in the state. Can it help again? Does Boulder City get help from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in marketing the town, and what form does that take?
It’s time to re-evaluate the Boulder City brand, particularly in light of the opening of Interstate 11. We need an identity and path forward. Branding is not an option, it’s a necessity.
Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, the principal trade publication for the casino industry, and is a 10-plus year resident of Boulder City.