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Branding Real Estate Communities – MUCH Harder than it seems…

Started a great conversation with Olivier Blanchard regarding real estate and branding campaigns. REALTORS brand (coming soon), Builders brand, Developers brand, Developments brand – or should I say Bland. Not wanting to offend anyone, but given how much the genreal public has been overwhelmed with under-whelming advertising, there is little wonder why campaings often don’t work as expected.

Today I want to focus on Developers. Developers are the ones that start with a chunk of land and turn it into a beautiful community, hopefully attracting people to reside at (not in) their creation. Living in SW Florida, I can assure you there are no shortage of golfing communities, waterfront communities, gated communities, family communites and so on. As a developer, finding out what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is will be as challenging as permitting. No matter where you are building your community, you need to discover what sets you apart from the others. To do that, you need to know well beyond your client (technically, the client is the builder NOT the homeowner), and you need to know their clients – the end-user, the homeowner. Having a “Signature Golf Course” built by a well-known designer doesn’t qualify. Having better snow-making equipment doesn’t work either (for you northerners). It goes well beyond that – and frankly, much deeper.

I was a REALTOR for nearly 10 years. I finished my career working for one of the largest developers in the area (Developer “A”). The company is publicly traded. They spent countless dollars branding their name. They got into building “custom” homes. Their goal was to be huge and successful. For a time, they were. I believe they even won Builder of the Year (after I left). However, behind the scenes, many mistakes were being made that ultimately brought the company down. Buying land at costs that were way too high, venturing in to “Custom” Home building, (while I’m here, “Custom” is NOT choosing one of these 8 floorplans and choosing finish – that’s customizable – huge difference. Custom means everything is drawn from scratch, based on each clients’ needs) and straying from the core company values all played huge roles in the demise of this company. Allowing sub-par contractors in just to get work finished, cheapening materials in order to make the balance sheet better and so on helped bring them down. This developer orignially sold and branded their projects as well-run, high-end, lifestyle and social communities, then when they transformed into a home builder as well, their brand was lost going through the same transformation.

On the flip side, we have Developer “B”. They opened back in the early 1980’s with a single project bordering the Estero Bay and Imperial River. Offered tremendous ammeneties (features), but from inception, always branded the BENEFIT of buying in their community. The fact that contractors were scrutinized. Standards were higher than anywhere else. This particular developer limited the number of projects it would take on, created an image of each individual community, all the while maintaining the core beliefs of the company. Before working for Developer “A”, I applied at “B”. Eight years of sales experience (mostly in the top 5% of my peers) wasn’t good enough. I needed experience with another company first – they suggested “A” (kind of like a AAA baseball team I guess) for refinement. Again – holding to their core values. Core values that would parallel Walt Disney. Every presentation started with the vision of the company founder, to provide a harmonious place to live amongst nature and enjoy it’s resources without disturbing the natural beauty. Holding true to these values from the top on down has made their develpments some of the best places to live here locally.

Can a community be branded effectively? Yes. However, it is one of the hardest things to do in that industry. Not to be different in your marketing is virtually suicidal, however, there is little difference from one community to the next – unless the underlying developer spends the time needed to create a brand for the developer first, and the community second.

I would love to map out step-by-step instructions how to accomplish proper community branding, but it isn’t that simple. It is time consuming. It takes research, patience and thought. However, when you figure out your USP (and please – make it unique!), shout it from the rooftops! (Or the sides of your friendly neighborhood mobile billboard company!)

Next post we’ll go into some easy do’s and don’ts when branding yourself as a Real Estate Professional…



December 29, 2008 - Posted by | Business tips, Marketing in SWFL | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onBranding Real Estate Communities – MUCH Harder than it seems …Here’s a quick excerptStarted a great conversation with Olivier Blanchard regarding real estate and branding campaigns. REALTORS brand (coming soon), Builders brand, Developers brand, Developments brand – or should I say Bland. Not wanting to offend anyone, … […]

    Pingback by Real Estate Secret Info » Blog Archive » Branding Real Estate Communities - MUCH Harder than it seems … | December 30, 2008

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