Changing Reno’s Brand Perception

Those of you who read this blog from time to time know that I’m fanatical about Reno’s brand perception problems and challenges.  I’ve had more than my share of rants and conversations about the topic, and have tried to keep it light when it seemed that there literally was no hope of ever having Reno thought of again as “fun and contemporary“.

Our old gaming perception had come home to roost, our messaging really wasn’t connecting with our audience, and we were coupled with one of the worst economic recessions on record.  The Reno brand has been last to rebound economically for a number of reasons (which is an entirely different range of discussions).

Since December of 2010, I have been working closely on a project that I believed could help start a new conversation about what downtown Reno is now…and what it could be very quickly. Having worked with this same developer on the Montage, I knew his visions could quickly turn into reality .   Just by chance, the property in the developer’s eye was attached to the one iconic symbol of Reno that most people know well – The Reno Arch.  “Location, location, location” – I thought.  Here is ground zero for change.

And now, after several months of planning, I’m happy to announce a project that I believe will help to change Reno’s perception as a destination: CommRow.

Formerly the Fitzgerald Hotel Casino, CommRow will be an entirely different, and complimentary brand to gaming.  We’re positioning this new property as an “urban adventure resort”… featuring an impressive indoor rock climbing facility, and (wait for it….) – the world’s tallest climbing wall.  Quite a billing for Reno – and a new market to talk to our tourists both new and old.

Key to a development of this size and scope, parking and accessibility are issues that are paramount to long-term success.  And so the resolution of a long-standing problem with the garage once a part of the Fitzgerald became a cornerstone issue to finalize our path.  As of this week, that resolution has taken place, and CommRow is on its way to a truly monumental grand opening this year.

More important than tourism (can you imagine!?), is how CommRow will be perceived (and hopefully adopted) by our local community.  How we treat each guest will far outweigh the return on the millions of dollars going into renovations and additions.  How CommRow connects to our community will determine its short and long-term success.  I’m a little giddy over the opportunity to help create those connections and watch them grow.

There’s much work to do in a very short timeframe to open this facility on Labor Day of 2011 – and I have faith that it will be done.  Beyond the obvious marketing and advertising needs to launch a property of this size and type, making lasting relationships with vendors and community organizations is key to establishing CommRow as a truly passionate community brand.

Stay tuned for details via Facebook and Twitter as we roll-out products and details between now and the end of this summer!

And of course connect with CommRow on Facebook if you want to stay up to date on this project.

4 Responses to “Changing Reno’s Brand Perception”

  1. Jeffrey Dow Jones Says:

    I’m really excited about this, Larry. Especially since I’m moving across town and will be closer to downtown again and will very soon need fun things to do with children.

    I have a lot of friends who are really active in the local climbing community. I’m curious to get their thoughts about this new facility. I’m also excited to follow along on the development of this. Keep us readers in the loop!

    One question: I haven’t really been following this project — what’s the inspiration/origin of “CommRow”?

    I like the slogan Meet. Eat. Play. Stay. It’s comfortable, active, and inviting, with a hint of sexiness. Did SmartBrand come up with this?

  2. Larry DeVincenzi Says:

    Thanks Jeffrey. CommRow is short for Commercial Row. The street upon which the property is located, but more importantly, the beginning of the Nevada economy in the early 1800’s (well before Las Vegas). CommRow is an homage to that history and pioneering spirit, and the very spot that Nevada’s economy was born.

    Comm is also short for community…which is a core value in the brand. And communications… and …. you get the idea. It’s flexible, and historical.

    I didn’t say it was easy on the tongue…but in time, I hope it will become familiar and easy to pair with other brands.

    We’ll see!

  3. Larry DeVincenzi Says:

    Oh and yes… SmartBrand crafted the tagline, logo, and hopefully…everything else to come! Still…it takes a team, and we’re assembling a really great one so far.

  4. Jeffrey Dow Jones Says:

    I think the CommRow name is good.

    In a way it reminds me of “Third Street” from when I was in L.A. (the Third Street Promenade). That’s a very powerful local brand and the name means lots of different things to lots of different people – to some it’s shopping & dining, to others it’s walking aimlessly on a warm evening, to others it’s a hop, skip, and a jump from the pier and Santa Monica beach, which also means very different things depending on whether it’s day or night. It’s really comfortable to suggest, “hey, let’s go to Third Street” and it’s easy to agree with the suggestion. It doesn’t carry all the specific emotional imagery (or baggage) of a place like “BoomTown” or “the mall”. Even “downtown Reno” carries very specific connotations.

    I guess Reno doesn’t really have anything like that. It seems weird to believe, but the evolution and development might actually be ahead of the branding when it comes to what’s happening downtown. Vegas has “The Strip”, which people understand means a million different things, but Reno doesn’t really have anything like that, a cohesively labeled, multi-experiential destination for locals and tourists!

    Hopefully CommRow will mean different things to different people. Given the etymology of the Comm- prefix, it probably will.


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