Reply: What is the marketing theory that would explain why every asset has a unique name and brand?

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Topic History of : What is the marketing theory that would explain why every asset has a unique name and brand?

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1 year 8 months ago #36564

Jules Carney

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I was part of the team responsible for building key sub-brands off of our parent brand at Avalon Bay. I was in charge of Consumer and Resident research at the time when we determined there was significant value for building a group of brands based on the segments of consumers we were serving or were targeting to serve. Originally Avalon pushed itself as a luxury brand, but we understood that that market was finite for that space and many younger renters, as well as commodity-focused renters, either felt that luxury was not affordable, or identifiable to them. Ava and Eaves were born from this approach - Sub-brands that have shown great success in the markets they serve. We fell on a signatory brand approach (an Avalon property).

There was a lot of discussion about individual property identity, and I have that discussion with many of my clients today. The research was not there to support the individual property identity brand approach... The primary reason that many choose to stick with the individual brand is that prospects and residents refer to the name of the community they live in or are seeking out to rent (for prospects). That's fine if you have a single property, but depresses the overall value of the portfolio if you want to extend resident Lifetime value beyond a single rental event.

Our research consistently shows that if residents have a good or bad experience, and they are looking to rent at a different location, they rely on the brand to guide their decision. Look at your prospect data and you will find, especially in urban environments, that most of your prospects come from within 3 to 5-miles of your current property. The majority of renters (especially those who have a good experience) tell us that they look for the brand first as part of their search. Why? Great brands provide consistency of experience and take some of the guesswork out of making a choice. Why wouldn't I want to live in a community where my experience was excellent?

The other educational opportunity I have with clients is about what a brand means. Most think of large brands, Apple, Nordstroms, etc. when they think of brands and say they do not have the budget to build a brand. That is an excuse. Building a Big-B brand to scale is costly, but building a Little-B brand in the local markets you serve is not. We forget that there are renters who will be in the market for a while, and you need to be competitive in the markets you serve - Branding is the advantage if you are committed to providing the type of experience your targets markets want.
1 year 8 months ago #36494

Dustin Nelson

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Identity. A community is specifically unique to the needs/wants/desires of its demographic. It loses its special value if they are all cookie cutter and the called same name. We are people, not items to be stored in a U-Haul storage facility. We want to feel defined.
1 year 8 months ago #36493

Natalie Cariola

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The largest player in the space represents less than 2% of TAM. Add to that a goal of selling new development combined with so many properties under fee management. This is not the hotel industry which makes branding difficult if not impossible.
1 year 8 months ago #36492

Jennifer Ryan

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For my portfolio we manage for investors. Everything is for sale always lol. We buy and sell multiple times so the cost of rebranding for each purchase would be extensive. We also have different classes of properties. While everything is under our corporate umbrella each property has a different name
1 year 8 months ago #36491

Timothy Cox

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The marketing theory of naming all properties the same is to create a similar brand experience with customers. This seems like a great idea and it is if you are talking about fast food, or retail etc. But this approach has to mesh with your customers' "buying" habits and this is where the reason to do this in multifamily comes into question.

So the real question is, "How many residents that move from one Company A's branded community to another town/location and will be so influenced by the brand experience that they want to rent in a similarly branded community by the same Company A?"

I've never seen any hard numbers but few management companies have this much coverage to be able to benefit from this scenario. The numbers go up if you think in terms of resident referrals to a friend in other markets instead of capturing the same resident, but that's also not supported by any deep studies.
The real answer as to why a multifamily company should brand similarly across their portfolio is banks and investors might like it. Owners like it.

Do the residents like it/ prefer it / respond to it? Not in and of itself, because again, it doesn't mesh with the consumer experience for the previously listed reasons. However, if you happen to have a really good branded approach that is truly resonating well with your target audience and it also has some flexibility to adapt to local differentiating circumstances, then that can work. Few pull that off.
The thing I always think about when it comes to branding an apartment community is that they are always in a unique market/competitive mix/ situation and if you want to get the most out of your marketing, I would suggest making that branding customized to compete where the apartment community is positioned. (And this is mostly for A level communities of size.)

I mean, if you have an apartment community that's worth 25-50 million dollars on paper, you owe it to the investment itself to do things the right way and not the easy way.
1 year 8 months ago #36490


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Mike, why do you always ask such hard questions?

Obviously lots of factors at play here, but two major factors that I see, neither of which are easy to quantify:

1) the desire to build a brand that is a reflection of the city, its people, or even the history of that exact site. Just picture townhall meetings where local residents are fighting against development -- I can imagine it's easier to get them on board if you aren't trying to bring your own brand into town, but are trying to help preserve a piece of history that they care about. One example that comes to mind is Glasshouse in Pittsburgh, built on the site of an old glass factory. The glass industry is woven into the city's history, thus it's woven into the stories of many families in that area. The property feels very "Pittsburgh," something that would likely have to take a backseat if the brand was primarily concerned with maintaining a national brand.

2) consider a coffee analogy (most things in my life are coffee analogies): some people go to Starbuck's wherever they are because they know what it will smell like when they walk in, they know the menu, etc. It's all about convenience and brand loyalty. Others will want to experience something more local, e.g. Yelpers looking for the best hole-in-the-wall coffee shop that epitomizes that city's vibe. They're chasing that feeling of being "a local". Renters can take similar approaches: they can prioritize convenience and brand loyalty; or they can prioritize finding something unique that will make them feel like someone who has lived there for years.

Definitely justification for both sides, and also plenty of renters who are looking for both experiences.

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