The brand that goes beyond games
The 2021 Evoplay rebrand was recently nominated for the CasinoBeats Game Developer Award ‘Innovation in Marketing’.
What does the rebrand mean to us, and how important a role does it play?
As Seth Godin, the marketing and leadership expert, once said, ‘A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.’
We believe that good branding is a key component to business success, scalability, and finding ways to truly connect with customers and partners.
Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay’s CEO, and Vladimir Malakchi, our CCO, were recently interviewed and explained the importance of this belief.
Tell us about the rebrand – what does it symbolise and how will it change the way Evoplay interacts in the iGaming industry?
Ivan: The rebrand is really an evolution – something that naturally started to take shape as our company grew and we made plans for the coming years. We’re really proud that in just three years we grew our team to over 100 people, and going forward we needed a brand identity that would help tie together our people, their work, what we stand for and how the industry itself recognises us – a company that’s at the forefront of technological development in the iGaming space.
In terms of how that plays out regarding interaction – that is, in short, a key component to our brand and our future. We’ve always made sure that we meet the needs of online casinos and their audiences, but in addition to that we also have a strong drive to help actually shape operators’ future audiences.
Evoplay is itself a brand. One that stands for great gaming, progressive ideas, industry-leading tech, and market firsts. We’re a prime mover, and that means more than just producing new games that no one else has created in this space.
It means we create the type of games that will bring in a whole new audience to iGaming. We’re interacting with mainstream gamers – and showing that huge group of players that iGaming can be a natural continuation of the gaming they love – just in a different form of entertainment. Gambling.
Are there other objectives, too?
Vladimir: One is to reflect our insights and plans in a way that sets the tone and future-proofs our messaging – as much as that is ever possible. Or, in other words, to represent how Evoplay will be perceived in and outside of the gaming industry.
Now it’s time to really show the world of entertainment our technological capabilities, our art, and that we’re mature enough to set our name in stone.
We’re bringing our business to a completely new level, shaking up iGaming and making a strong statement to the industry. One of the objectives of our rebrand is to start showing that.
We think of our brand as, essentially, a platform for reaching and tapping into the wider world of entertainment.
Was this done in-house, or did you use an outside agency?
Vladimir: All of our rebranding work was done in-house, and this was possible because we’re actually structured like a creative agency. We have the capacity for market research and analytics; and have the brand, communications, graphic design and marketing expertise that many agencies would themselves be proud of.
Indeed, some of our staff have agency backgrounds. Our marketing and communications team, for example, are an incredible mix of talents. Some have worked in gaming before, and others come from outside of our industry and have worked with some of the biggest brands on the planet – from Red Bull to Audi, from Nike to HBO.
What you see from our rebranding is really just the start – the beginning of our journey as we move onwards and upwards.
Talk us through what’s new in the Evoplay journey – what can visitors now expect to see on the Evoplay website?
Ivan: Journeys for any company should be holistic – touching every aspect of the business. Our rebrand took this into account and so it’s more than just how we look on social media, for example, or how we use visuals.
It’s really everything – from the PR we use to engage the media, to the emails that partners receive, to the way we present our work for award recognition, to the communication we have with players, or even the way we set up contracts and draft official letters. It touches everything!
But for the website specifically, we tidied up the functionality and put into place the elements needed for the future tools it will offer.
Then we applied the cosmetics – our logo that playfully represents the letter ‘E’ but also represents a wing (a reference to our new mascot, which is now being implemented in our work).
The logo has many clever visual cues behind it – it looks like a menu icon, and also looks like a dropping stack of casino chips… so expect to see us play with that logo as we go forwar
We also used the brand visuals to better represent our games in a clearer way, and showcase our various channels – including social media – more comprehensively. What you see on our website today is it’s initial refresh. There’s much more coming, especially for our partners.
What are your brand values?
Ivan: Evoplay’s values are very important to us. Two of those are fairness and honesty – and so we do our very best to make sure that partnering with Evoplay is a win-win for operators.
Our partners know that our games have got fantastic retention rates, but we also want operators to know that we can help them boost their business with newly acquired players too. Our website, and our communications in general, better reflect that.
We created a Brand Book that is, at the moment, an internal tool but in the future we will probably make that a publicly accessible dedicated microsite. So stay tuned for that.
But I would like to say something about our values, because one part of that is about how we operate as a company – and how we work like a family.
We have corporate values in place that direct our company’s approach to its people. Before you start applying values that partners and players will see, you have to make your own home a place that is good to be.
And so we’re also in the middle of an internal rebranding too. This looks at how we hire people, who we hire, how we motivate and incentivise – how we treat people and build their careers and help put meaning into their work and time with us.
Within the iGaming world, we want to be the employer of choice. If you love gaming, love gambling, love brands and love entertainment – Evoplay is the company that stands for that.
Our other brand values are not a secret, but are personal to us. They are tied to our 10-year plan and how we’ll achieve our goals. They give us meaning, give us confidence, and make sure we stay on the right path. We’re trailblazing that path, and we hope others will follow us.
Vladimir: To add to that, we have values that focus on our Brand Mission, our Brand Vision, and our Brand Promise – which of course is a promise to both our partners and our games’ players.
In very simple terms, our brand values are there to motivate us and to make us question what we offer the industry, how and what we deliver to our various audiences, how we influence, how we work together, how we inspire, and how we always keep moving forward. Everything starts with branding!
For slots and other games – what’s going to be new? Your new mantra promises the future of iGaming today – what can players expect, and how does your company’s 10-year plan shape up?
Ivan: We will continue to create amazing gaming experiences, just as we always have – and that means releasing titles that follow themes and mechanics that players love. If you’re experienced with online casinos, we’ll provide you with incredible games to play.
But beyond that, the future is also something else. It’s about realising that the world of entertainment, in general, is booming like never before. From streaming services to social media sharing platforms, from interactive and virtual technology and interfacing.. we’re seeing a seachange – and it’s entertainment that you largely carry around within your mobile devices.
And so your question hits the nail squarely on the head. It’s all about the future. Evoplay is not standing still, or acting passively. We’re looking to the future and embracing it right now.
You’ll see this later in the year when we release our flagship game for 2021. Once again, Evoplay will bring an industry first to the world of iGaming. And it’s pretty spectacular.
But not everything we do will be on such a grand, cosmic you might say, scale. We will, however, keep pushing the boundaries. Just recently, for example, we released a title called Neon Shapes. It’s super cool – a fairly simple Tetris-inspired instant game, but one that has a retro feel in its graphics… and it also includes skill-based elements.
Imagine, an instant game that also lets you put some skill to the test too for twice the fun! So why would we do this? Because skill-based games are dominating the entertainment sphere for Generations Y and Z.
Going forward, from now into the future, you’ll see us continue to do this each year – bringing more games that blur the lines between gaming and iGaming, between gambling and more mainstream entertainment.
Our 2021 flagship game is coming soon, and it takes this concept to a whole new level. The only sad thing for us is that we can’t tell you about it yet. But suffice to say, it’s a game with huge scope.
I’d say that it’s not enough for us that Evoplay is a known brand in iGaming. We want to be a known brand, full stop. Period.
We’ve got big ambitions and our 10-year plan is all about steadily realising a dream. We went from being a small fish in a big pond, to a bigger fish. Now we’re no longer even thinking about the water – we’re growing legs and climbing out of the pond, and taking some of its ecosystem (our partners) with us as we go.
Can you tell us more about your 10-year plan for the business?
Ivan: We can’t openly talk about the collaborations yet to be signed, or the new tech we’ll introduce. But I can say it involves new types of games, how we’ll use new technology, how that crosses over with gaming in a broader sense, and how we’ll attract new audiences to iGaming for the benefit of our partners.
At Evoplay we talk a lot about iGaming and mainstream entertainment. There are certainly a few video slots that most adults are already familiar with. But mainstream, for us, has another meaning. Our plans involve how iGaming can align with current and future mainstream entertainment trends.
That’s why we were the first company to release a ‘hack and slash’ RPG (role playing game) slot. It’s also why we released the first mass market 3D/VR slot, and why we are so dedicated to producing games that play blindingly-fast (and seamlessly) on mobile devices – whatever the device.
Always, we aim to lead, embracing new technologies and entertainment trends.
And this year we have something even bigger coming, so stay tuned. It’s gonna be out of this world!
Earlier, I spoke about our diverse staff and the talent they bring from other industries – and this fits within our 10-year plan. We look to other industries for inspiration in what we create, how we create it; how it can inspire others, how it can be branded, and how it can transform not just our company, but the industry itself.
What we offer today is truly an integrated approach that combines game development with branding, marketing and communications, and our sales and key account support.
I think that Vladimir recently said it best:
The next decade of the Evoplay journey will be a well thought out plan of action – rather like a game of chess. Planned, but adaptive.
If our pawn’s opening move was made three years ago when we founded the company, 2021 is when we start truly dominating the board.