After the opening of its first casino resort in Atmore, Ala., in 2009, Wind Creek Hospitality, a regional enterprise with no direct local competition, could operate without the support of any brand advertising. Its sole marketing message and customer promise was simply the lure of a jackpot win.

Commodity differentiation—contrasting its service offering with potential competitive threats—was unnecessary. And although there is nothing inherently wrong with a casino billboard promising jackpots, this tactical approach does not convey a brand ownership position and does not establish a differentiating brand promise. Every casino has gaming machines; every casino offers jackpots.

But a strong rationale necessitating the construction of a brand platform did present itself. The Atmore property was experiencing flat to lackluster growth within two of its key feeder markets, Pensacola, Fla.,  and Mobile, Ala. Biloxi, Miss., a one-hour drive from Mobile, with its twelve casinos offering table games, more hotel rooms and dining choices, along with better retail options, does indeed compete with Wind Creek’s Atmore resort.

For Wind Creek’s properties in Montgomery, Ala., and Wetumpka, Ala., potential customers have two options, Pearl River in northern Mississippi and Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.  Further, prospects driving from Atlanta down to the Biloxi market represent the best opportunity to grow Wetumpka’s revenue. Constructing a credible, sustainable brand platform is vital to that property’s growth and success; however, overall brand awareness for Wind Creek in Georgia was hovering within the low single digits.

TAGLINE & LOGO UPGRADES

Clearly the need to migrate away from tactical messaging towards a broader, brand-building communication strategy was required to establish a beach head in these important feeder markets. Creating a credible brand promise would cut into the competitive set; crafting a clear, unambiguous and memorable tag line was the first step.

After deliberation, our executive team agreed to support a simple but elegant phrase, one that was not only believable, but deliverable across all customer touch points: “Find Your Winning Moment.” This tagline would preface all advertising going forward, becoming the foundation for all customer communication, both internally and externally. A “winning moment” could easily fit into any experience a customer could enjoy at Wind Creek: dinner at Alabama’s best steakhouse Fire, a treatment session at Atmore’s world-class spa, taking in a movie at the cinema, and, of course, winning a jackpot. These “winning moments” can define the brand, and deliver a promise to the customer that does indeed differentiate Wind Creek from its competition.

Wind Creek’s logo underwent a metamorphosis during this brand building period. The original logo and type face began its marketing life in 2009, and remained in place throughout the launch of the ‘Winning Moment’ brand campaign. The mark featured a scripted “W” inside of a brown square; the Wind Creek typeface was a serif outline font, with “Wind Creek” often rendered as a single word, with an orange “Wind” joined by a brown “Creek.” The logo was serviceable, although its legibility suffered in certain applications. (Rarely do company brands, especially those whose identity is heavily dependent on exterior signage, utilize serif fonts.) Online, the boxed ‘W’ was difficult to read, particularly on mobile devices; on billboards, the font appeared delicate, and it was difficult to recognize from a distance. Its best application was exterior signage, where illumination compensated somewhat for the delicate serif font.

Early in 2015, the design for the company’s social gaming website, WindCreekCasino.com, was approved. This user interface was dominated by shades of violet, with a new Wind Creek logo and typeface, reversed out in white. The “W” mark was now encased in circle, and “Wind Creek” was rendered in a sans serif font (Hurnes Geometric Sans), also reversed out in white. The difference between the old and new logo is profound; the new version quickly established itself as a stronger and more legible alternative, particularly within online and mobile applications. The “circle W,” as we now refer to the new design, has now found its way into all of our marketing and advertising materials, and it is featured prominently on the newest property, Wind Creek Montgomery. Here, the first physical manifestation of the new brand identity has taken root, from the illuminated exterior property signage to all customer facing materials, as well as the property’s website.

STAMP OF APPROVAL

When Wind Creek Rewards, the new loyalty program, launches this year, the rebranding of Wind Creek’s gaming enterprise will reach its next plateau. The final phase includes replacement of all exterior and interior property signage at the Atmore and Wetumpka properties, a project which we hope to complete by the summer of 2017.

Most importantly, and crucial to the acceptance and adoption of the new brand by the company’s tribal leadership, was incorporating components of the original logo. The brand specifically acknowledges the tribe’s heritage; the wind-swept “W,” very prominent in the original rendering, represents the Wind branch of the Creek tribe, and is left intact within the new design.

The Atmore and Wetumpka resorts feature a swoosh-like arc to the roof tops, also acknowledging the tribe’s wind heritage; this architectural element is interpreted in the footer placeholder for all property print and outdoor advertising.

A properly executed graphic identity across all online and offline marketing channels should contribute and enhance a brand’s credibility with its customers. Further, consistency of voice bolsters the brand promise by enabling better advertising recall among the target customer. Wind Creek’s new brand promise, “Find Your Winning Moment” and its supporting graphic identity program, gives the brand a strong voice, and more importantly, delivers a believable promise to its customers while acknowledging the tribes’ historical connections. Wind Creek will build upon this versatile platform as it extends its brand beyond the region.