All Articles Leadership Building a brand around an experience

Building a brand around an experience

3 min read


When Julia Carcamo joined Isle of Capri Casinos as vice president of brand marketing in 2006, she found a company split between older riverboat gambling halls and splashy new casinos appealing to a hip demographic. Gamblers already talked about going to “The Isle,” so that was a natural brand for the newer properties. But what to do with the riverboats that had long been at the company’s core?

Under Carcamo’s leadership, those properties were rebranded under the “Lady Luck” name, an effort that went far beyond slapping on a new, alliterated moniker. After a presentation at the fifth annual Internal Branding & Employee Engagement Conference, Carcamo spoke with SmartBrief about smiles, consistency — and pink flamingos.

Why did Isle of Capri decide to undertake a rebranding effort?

When I came here in 2006, we were introducing two new casinos with a younger, more contemporary feel. But then we had our older properties that were more like your local bar — very casual, very impromptu. So we ended up with a portfolio that offered two very distinct experiences, and each needed a different brand.

It’s easy enough to come up with a new logo or slogan, but how do you revamp a company’s experiential brand?

It’s definitely not a quick process, and we don’t claim to be there yet. We had to find the focus here at the corporate level first, then we had to communicate it over and over again. Lady Luck had to be very fun and friendly and comfortable. We decided the first step was just making sure everyone was smiling and saying hello. We implemented our “See, Say, Smile” program to make those things second nature, and we tied bonuses to how well our people did at meeting those goals.

But it wasn’t just a matter of handbooks. We had to let the properties breathe it and figure out how to live it at the local level. That’s where the pink flamingos [a giveaway promotion featuring plastic birds that became a symbol of Lady Luck Black Hawk in Colorado] came in. That’s not something we could have planned; it just took on a life of its own.

It can be hard because we’re not selling a shoe or a bottle of water. We’re selling an experience. All casinos have the same slot machines and table games and buffets, but how that experience comes together for the customer is what sets a company apart. You have to let it grow organically in some ways because that’s how it becomes part of the culture.

Any other words of advice for a company considering a rebranding effort?

I think the biggest mistake we, as marketers, make is thinking that it’s only about colors and logos and slogans. You have to decide what you want the experience to be like day in and day out, then find a way to deliver that consistently.