This past week, Billy Casper Golf launched what we termed a “modernization” of our brand. We chose that description carefully. This was not the launch of a new brand. And even though the project involves a new logo and look and feel, we did not think of this as a rebranding. So what does it mean to modernize a brand?
Billy Casper Golf (BCG) was founded over 25 years ago as Billy Casper Design and Management. At that time, demand for rounds of golf far outweighed supply and much of our business was concentrated in advisory services for construction, new course openings and launching new golf offerings in a number of states throughout the country.
Throughout the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, the golf industry changed dramatically. 300-400 new golf courses were added each year until the highwater mark of nearly 16,000 facilities online in the US in 2005. Golfer participation also increased from 23 million golfers in 1990 to 30 million in 2005. Riding the wave, BCG grew from just one course under management in 1990 to 60 owned and operated clubs in 2005.
If the 15 years preceding 2005 were the golden years of golf, the following decade from 2006 to 2015 might easily be described as the decade of disruption. Faced with overbuilt supply, an aging participation base and increased competition for consumer’s time and entertainment dollars, golf participation began to wane. In 2014, the number of golfers in the US had eroded to just under 24 million, a 20% decline since 2005. Courses responded by cutting price and slashing expenses in attempts to make the economics of the new market work. Unfortunately, this race to the bottom was unsustainable and courses began to close. In 2006, for the first time in nearly 50 years, “net” golf course openings was negative. More than 500 courses have closed since 2006 and the annual rate of ‘net’ closures is expected to be more than 130 per year for several more years.
As the golf industry has changed, BCG has evolved as well. We’ve launched new companies and service offering such as Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group (formerly Buffalo Communications), Buffalo Turf and Landscape Company, and World's Largest Golf Outing. We’ve made substantial investments in data analytics capabilities to better understand the behavior and preferences of the consumer. In 2014, with the help of our partners at Perfect Sense Digital, we launched the Billy Casper Digital Network, now home to over 140 golf course websites and nearly 500,000 monthly unique visitors.
Further, with over 150 golf courses in the US, we are the perfect laboratory to test new innovations in golf. Early adoption of concepts like Golf Board, Foot Golf and We Are Golf are some examples and continue to solve the challenge of making golf more interesting to millennials, women and other demand latent segments.
In all, by the end of 2014, Billy Casper Golf has become the largest domestic owner-operator of golf courses, resorts and private clubs. We have 20 different service offerings (divisions, brands, organizations, entities, etc) marketed in various forms in the industry. By all measures the company has come a long way since 1990.
Yet with all of our progress, the BCG brand and logo has remained untouched and all market offerings are somewhat loosely federated under the Billy Casper Golf parent brand. The Billy Casper brand-- its architecture and look and feel--needed to more accurately reflect the powerful operating platform it had built. A “modernization”, if you will.
Over the coming weeks, we will take a deeper look at the major components of the modern BCG brand starting with the new logo and continuing with the supporting brand architecture. Normally you would discuss the architecture first but people have been asking a lot of questions about the new buffalo logo, so it warrants some discussion. We will talk further about the architecture as we formally roll out BCG SELECT, BCG PRIVATE and BCG VENTURES later this spring.
In the meantime, check out all of the great content at the new BillyCasperGolf.com. If you are a current or future client, industry professional, someone seeking a career with BCG, or a golfer looking for a place to golf or consume original golf content on the BCDN, our website has it all. Thanks for stopping by and please come back often.