The branding basics applicable to the real estate business are no different from branding in any other sector. The principles, of real estate branding, are the same, even if the applications are more specific and following the special dynamics of the business.
In fast growing markets for the real estate segment, like India, most companies would focus first on the operational and commercial side of the business; in other words how to build good projects, sell, deliver on time, and build new ones. With the development of the market, a small number of companies have started putting more focus on branding after they have discovered the economic power of a strong brand. At the same time, some other companies are still dealing with this sector in a commoditized mindset. Build, build, build; then sell, sell, sell. A basic corporate identity and few millions in communication would make them feel happy.
Starting by the basic concept of branding, it all boils down to that relationship at a human level between the brand and customers. It is about that trust, connection and affinity that the brand can establish and grow among customers and the general public in a certain markets. How to establish this connection, grow it and sustain it through time and geographies is all about the rules of good branding strategies.
The principle of “value creation” for customers and consumers is widely understood in the business and branding arena; however, the applications of this basic principle in a category like real-estate are quite complex.
Creating value starts with adding value to people’s life whether by offering them a better home, a better community, better facilities, a better investment, or simply a better business opportunity. When this value is created, delivered and perceived well by hundreds and thousands of customers, it will be transformed into an economic value linked directly to the brand equity or “good will” that this brand can create. In real estate, this notion of “value creation” is practically linking the cumulative positive performance of a company to the creation of a certain brand equity that will have immediate influence on the business and its success with future projects or joint-ventures.
Real estate brands that have managed to create value through a number of successful and sometimes iconic projects would benefit from a good reputation, equity and image in the market. This positive value is subject to growth and even to “transfer” to new projects that the brand is developing or even new markets where the brand is expanding. The positive experience that people have had with the brand in the past could be expected from new projects provided that a good marketing and communication job is supporting the brand and its activities.
Marketing and communication role is very important in this process, especially in highlighting the endorsement role that the main brand is bringing to new projects. The core brand promise, values and personality should be clearly pronounced in all these projects. The immediate results of “value transfer” will be noticed when the new projects from this same brand will start reaping substantial acceptance and “good will” in a relatively very short time. The successes and credentials of the main brand will start traveling around the market and offer new experiences to new customers and different target groups.
Since the brand value is cumulated by the success of its projects and decreased by project failures and customers dissatisfaction; it is better on the long run to only concentrate on well planned and executed projects to optimize the chances of success and avoid the negative experiences that can drain the brand value. Moreover, a brand that manages to transfer value from one project to another is a brand that can make substantial savings on marketing investments.
Branding and commodities goes in two opposite directions. As long as real estate companies are thinking in terms of “projects” and “developments” the real estate branding process cannot reach its full potential in terms of value creation. Therefore, when companies realize that they are not only building apartments, villas, houses, offices, malls and recreational centers but “communities” and “lifestyle” in general, the shift in thinking and in business will start happening. An idea like “community concept” will give a bigger role to the relationship between the brand and customers. This will project the brand role and relationship through time and make the creation and transfer of value a lifetime process. Real estate companies that are selling houses and apartments are selling bricks and mortar, while those who are marketing lifestyle are actually building connection and value.
If we look at what “Real Estate” companies are offering and try to find that core thing that customers of all types are looking for among all these offerings of “community life”, “all-in-one place”, “waterfront living”, “themed communities”, “good investment”, “branded developments”, the tallest, the biggest, the first, the everything…
All these claims and unique propositions will help real estate projects and companies and eventually appeal to customers with different needs and mindsets. But behind all these propositions we can find one Core Promise that real estate brands should be offering, it is the promise of a “better life” – If you want to build a brand in real estate, never break that promise.