When you’re developing a new multi-family apartment project, you’re considering a lot of things: how many units to include, square footage, which amenities to offer, and what to charge for rent. What you may not be thinking about is your community’s brand. Here are four reasons why you should.
A brand is more than just the logo. A brand is built out of the thoughts, opinions, and perceptions that your residents and the rest of the market hold about your building.
You can shape these perceptions through elements like your name, website, logo, and even the design of your apartment building. But these “raw materials” of your brand amount to little more than suggestions for what conclusions people should make about it. You can give people a nudge in the right direction, but it’s ultimately in the consumer's hands how they interpret those suggestions.
The point is: You’re going to have a brand whether you like it or not, so you might as well steer the ship. Since people are going to form judgments about your brand no matter what you do (or don’t do), take as much control as possible by building the basics of your brand in the image you want to project.
Brands create community through shared identity and values. All brands are in the business of selling a lifestyle, whether that be the lifestyle of low-calorie ice cream (Halo Top) or the lifestyle of traveling like a local (Airbnb). The more successfully you sell the lifestyle, the more successful you’ll be at creating demand for your product.
Selling lifestyle before product is so effective because lifestyles represent values and aspirations. When you align your product with a lifestyle, your product comes to represent those same values and aspirations. Why is that so important? Because values and aspirations are the ingredients that form our identities and bring people together.
Brands are a form of self-expression for many consumers. Brands that sell lifestyle encourage consumers to not only buy their product, but to make the brand part of their self-image and identity. When that happens, consumers develop stronger brand loyalty because they’re also loyal to a particular self-image they’ve cultivated, and the community that surrounds it.
If it’s possible to create a demand-generating lifestyle out of a product, you can certainly create a lifestyle out an apartment building. After all, there’s little that’s more central to one’s lifestyle than the place you actually live.
Encouraging residents to not only live in your building but to identify with the lifestyle your building represents will directly impact how much they enjoy living there. And the more your residents enjoy living in your community, the more renewals and less turnover you’ll see.
In a competitive housing market like the Twin Cities, your brand is one of the strongest persuasive tools you have to lure residents from another building to yours. Having a brand means you know your selling points and who your ideal renter is, allowing you to target those potential residents with personalized marketing that exposes them to your community.
Vacancy rates across the Twin Cities were under 2.4% last quarter. (For reference, the market is considered “balanced” at 5% vacancy.) That’s due in part to ever-increasing demand for apartment housing, but it’s also due to more and more developers creating brands for their buildings (or hiring agencies to do it for them). The brand identities of apartment buildings in up-and-coming neighborhoods even play a role in shaping the neighborhood’s reputation and character. So get in early and set the stage.
The competition is fierce, but building a strong brand will give you an edge to stand out in the marketplace.
A strong brand will snowball. The stronger your brand, the more people identify with it. The more they identify with it, the more they’ll talk about it to other people and project that identity outward. The more people hear about your brand, the larger your reputation will grow, and the more demand you’ll see. And so on.
When your building becomes the cool place to live, your reputation will grow by word of mouth and, these days, by social media. Building a strong brand will generate a consistent demand for units in your building that will keep occupancy steady and vacancy almost nonexistent.
Check out some of the brands we’ve built for multi-family apartment communities around the Twin Cities, and learn how those brands have enabled the communities to stand out and lease up quickly.