Branding VS Marketing for Tribal Casinos

Does your brand deliver a feeling? Or promise an experience?

Are branding and marketing one in the same? Marketing is certainly an all-encompassing process that takes on many faces. But many perceive branding as putting a logo on everything and having a jingle and slogan on your website. While both are important, this is just the beginning…

For those that have been around long enough, competition and saturation was less of a concern in the early days. Gaming was new and making money was not a problem. There was a confusing misconception that, as long there were bodies in the casino, operators were doing their jobs. Regardless of the promotions, advertising, or event, everyone at the casino appeared to be successful when there was a full house. Today, as that has changed, the same question exists and we are left to wonder, are the things we are doing efficient? or is there money being left on the table?


To become iconic, people want to know what you stand for. That logo now tells a story, it represents a philosophy and ethics of who and what you and your people are all about. When you look at the branding for some of the biggest companies there are characteristics, they all possess, even with their diverse style of execution.

Think of McDonalds, Disney, Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks, FedEx, or Mercedes-Benz.

When you look at major brands, you subconsciously associate something to each one:

  • Innovation
  • Entertainment
  • Dependability
  • Luxury
  • Inspiration
  • Product

There is a history and story that have made their brand story recognizable. When you look at your logo, what is the story it is telling? Is there any meaning behind it that your audience can invest in? What does it tell them about your brandy story? Synergizing all your marketing efforts help to build on that unique and iconic identity that people recognize by merely seeing a symbol. But again, that is just the beginning.


Most marketing is intended to generate a quick response from the audience. Promotions, events, giveaways etc. all provide a stimulus and generate a response. These are trackable, meaning we can measure the ROI and other metrics to judge how effective your campaign, event, promotion etc. is when it comes to conversion and buy decisions. In short, we are measuring the effect of dangling the carrot, which is still quite impactful today.

Recently, there was an excellent article from Red Circle and Chad Germann on casino advertising. One of the highlights was gathering important information about your players.

One of the most important elements of this process is the ability to ask the right questions. How do you expect to get the results you want if your questions do not correspond to what you’re trying to accomplish?

The second part of this process is, knowing what to do with the information once you acquire it:  

  • Is there a target, are they buying what you are selling?
  • Is it directed at the right target?
  • Is it telling the story that you want to be told?
  • Are you advertising what you are selling?
  • Are you selling what you are advertising?

Sell What You Promise

When you are promoting a certain type of experience, you are now obligated to fulfill that promise. You and your people need to sell the experience you have advertised to build trust with your audience. Your Guest Service and Hospitality team members need to deliver (and mostly importantly understand) what their guests are expecting to receive when they visit your property.

Setting service standards and making sure the are fully understood from top to bottom is critical. From the small things such as housekeepers saying hello in the hallways. Everybody taking time to pick up scraps of paper or empty cups while passing through the property, all aspects of Guest Service make a difference. How guests are greeted is just as important as how your team members treat each other, and this means from the top down.

Did Your Brand Experience Live Up to Your Promise?

To me, the most important time of a guest visit is right before they are getting ready to leave. At this point they are going to evaluate their visit and may share feedback through surveys or during their departure. That is the moment of truth for you to see if their experience on property matches the brand that was advertised.

Guests will ask themselves if they have invested well when it comes to:

  • Did they spend wisely on gambling, food, hotel, or entertainment?
  • How long to travel, arrangements for a sitter, someone to take of the dog etc. Was it worth it?
  • Time is their most valuable resource. They have only so much of it and the demands on It are many. Did they feel fulfilled spending it here?

If at the end of those questions your guest can conclude the money, effort and time was well spent and most importantly, they would do it again? Then consider yourself a success. This is the type of brand identity you are looking to establish for yourself, so that the next time someone sees your logo, they know what it stands for.

Dan Stromer 14 Articles