Re-naming a business: Why do gambling companies change the tin?

Ladbrokes, bet365, MGM Resorts International. Throughout the gambling trade, these names are famed, synonymous with the phrase ‘titans of industry.' For decades, people have understood who those businesses are and what they offer the consumer. However, away from the realm of the ‘titans,’ there are thousands of start-ups and smaller businesses finding a place in the vast international market – trying to get the same instant name recognition the others exude.

gvc holdings to entain change gambling insider web image

Ladbrokes, bet365, MGM Resorts International. Throughout the gambling trade, these names are famed, synonymous with the phrase ‘titans of industry.' For decades, people have understood who those businesses are and what they offer the consumer. However, away from the realm of the ‘titans,’ there are thousands of start-ups and smaller businesses finding a place in the vast international market – trying to get the same instant name recognition the others exude.

Which begs a question, why ever change a brand name?

Especially in an industry fuelled by the customer’s ability to recognise a name.

Well, for the overwhelming majority, becoming an industry leader is the dream of every business that first launches into a new market; armed with a gutsy founder, a clear vision and a name that reflects the business – failure a distant thought.

Yet it is in the early days that a name bares the smallest of weight, as neither success nor recognition has yet crossed the threshold. In fact, it is the ability to see where a business can develop in a place that’s crying out for a niche that best governs recognition.

A fact that Earle Hall, CEO of Axes, knows well, as he recently commented on the ever-shifting nature of start-up business. He tells Gambling Insider: “A start-up will reinvent itself every 90 days. The shelf life of somebody that was excellent today may only be a year or nine months, but most CEOs don’t have the courage to evolve their HR at the speed that they’re growing, which means their team drowns the company.”

Having a good idea is worth something but having the flexibility to understand where a business can strike in the market is infinitely more valuable. So, a name change can come from the move a business experiences in finding its feet, a place in the market it may not have expected initially.

This is the exact story of Affili8, a small start-up business from England which recently changed its name to iGaming Agency (iGA) – not to be confused with the Indian Gaming Association in the United States (IGA) – after its three founders identified a position that differed from initial concept.

A start-up will reinvent itself every 90 days. The shelf-life of somebody that was excellent today may only be a year or 9 months, but most CEOs don’t have the courage to evolve their HR at the speed that they’re growing, which means their team drowns the companyEarle Hall, CEO of Axes

A point highlighted by iGA’s co-founder Chris O’Rourke, who said of the change: “Our initial plan was to build an affiliate network for the iGaming sector to promote casinos and bookmakers, but market forces saw us attract a number of businesses for consultancy as well. When we started going down that route the fact we were called Affili8 was very confusing for potential customers as they were not expecting us to be pitching SEO and other services."

However, it isn’t just year two start-ups that undergo a drastic moniker switch; Paddy Power Betfair – one of the west’s leading gambling companies – changed its name in 2019 to Flutter Entertainment. The reason it decided to do so was because of the myriad of different brands Paddy Power owned, therefore deciding to change its name to Flutter, a title which it had acquired in 2001 under Betfair. 

The change of name was also meant to represent Paddy Power’s desire to be seen differently, as the name ‘Flutter’ is directly related to the phrase ‘a little flutter,’ which has always had an air of innocence to it as a linguistic concept.

So, changing the name on the tin doesn’t only come down to a shifting concept direction, it can come around as a consequence of growth and perception.

An example best identified when GVC became Entain, which came around the same time as an HM Revenue and Customs investigation into a GVC brand operating in Turkey. The controversy was believed to be at least a factor in GVC changing its name to Entain and the sale of the brand under investigation. Like Flutter, the company was also looking for a snappier overall name.

Of course, the rebranding of a name affects a business in different ways. The disruption it can cause in the short term, as customers get used to the new moniker, can be financially measured to some degree. While smaller businesses have more wiggle room with the switch, as the reason usually boils down to being driven by a significant altering of business plan and direction.

So, how does changing a name really help or hinder?

The truth is it can help in more ways than it can harm in most circumstances, but in an industry driven by customer recognition, it isn’t a decision that should be undertaken lightly.

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