I was a little late to come across Paul Suchman’s blog, “The Intersection of Brand and Real Estate in the Experience Economy;” yet, I thought it was worth traveling back in time for some consideration.

What is a brand? This is Suchman’s first question, which highlights how brands have evolved in an era where customer loyalty and word-of-mouth are driven by the experience. Suchman defines a brand as:

  1. A promise and trust mark for all of our stakeholders.
  2. The inspiration that drives us to be our very best.
  3. A filter for making business decisions.

Working for a creative agency in real estate, I conduct an unofficial survey on the perceptions of multifamily branding every time people ask me what I do.

Me: “We provide branding and marketing services for multifamily and mixed-use properties.”

Questioner: “So you draw apartment logos?”

Me: “Not quite.”

Many things about a multifamily brand are visual. Design elements, fonts, and colors can evoke a property’s look and feel with just a first impression. And yet, this narrow thinking — or rather, misconception — about what a brand entails is why so many people in real estate are failing to connect with their audience and with a growing millennial demographic. 

Multifamily Branding Is More Than a Logo

Multifamily branding is more than a recognizable name and emblem. A brand’s value can be found within the associated perceptions and emotions that it conveys.

Let’s take the Nike swoosh, for example. On its own, Nike’s logo is quite simply a checkmark (that’s the extent of its complexity). And yet, we associate that “checkmark” with concepts and values far beyond itself.

Simply placing the Nike swoosh on a product represents a promise of quality. We associate the swoosh with images of athletes, perseverance, and passion. The final minutes of a championship. The strength and talent are only earned through hard work.

That’s a pretty powerful “checkmark.”

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Take any other well-known logo — The Ritz Carlton, Whole Foods, or BMW — and consider what kind of brand images and emotions it triggers. These perceptions, whether consciously or not, guide consumer purchase decisions.

Now apply the same principles of perception to multifamily branding — like a luxury high rise or a neighborhood community.

What brand images are associated with your property? What architectural vision or lifestyle is conveyed?

Real Estate’s Roadmap to Nike

I’ll let you in on the secret to Nike’s brand success: it was deliberate. In the early stages, the company sat down and asked themselves: What is Nike? Who are our customers? If Nike was a person, what kind of personality traits and values would he or she internalize? This is the same process that Suchman describes upon his arrival to CBRE.

Every great brand has a plan. And in a crowded market, a great brand can resonate and differentiate. Multifamily branding is more than a logo — it’s an emotional experience, a taste of a lifestyle, and a framework through which to grow.

The first steps of multifamily branding may seem like silly introspection, but don’t be fooled. Building blocks can seem quite simple, until one day they’re a building.

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