Let's talk branding basics for your apartment. It's the start of fall, and summer is over. Time to get back to school and back to basics. For your apartment community…Why Branding?
Branding is needed. But why?
Perhaps you've just spent a ton of time and money on your community, from new construction to value adds beyond the initial cost to acquire.
If the apartment building is the body, the brand's the face.
Brand brings your community to life—it's animation! When someone looks you in the eye, you know they're connecting with you. This is the opportunity to have the resident connect to your community, through its representation, not just its building. Home is more than a place. It's far more than four walls.
They can get a 1bed/1bath anywhere in this district. But! When you have something that you can claim all your own—through your look, your feel, your personality, your culture—that's a brand!
With something more attractive than just square footage, you can offer the character of your brand as a sticking point—not only for residents, but also for employees, which can improve your workplace culture and impact your customer service. Triple win.
What is Branding?
Branding is a combination of identifying visuals and messaging that define an entity and tell a story. Brand also has the opportunity to create a movement, culture or way of life. How you brand your apartment community completely depends on how you'll respond to each of the following prompts.
WHO? Who are you and who are you serving?
WHAT? What are you offering that's special or different?
WHY? If you weren't there, what would the neighborhood be missing? What problem do you solve?
DECIDE ON YOUR VIBE
Develop the vibe your apartment community will have. What will set it apart? Why is it a different choice than the place next door or across the street? Does it have a cozy, family-friendly feel or is it more a street-smart, urban hub? Creating and fully embodying your community's personality is key to branding.
MAKE IT VISUALLY MEMORABLE
Your brand's visual identity (logo, style, imagery) should reflect the essence of who you are and who you want to attract. These visual elements work to 1) grab attention, 2) create connection through relatability, and 3) foster recognition. And don't forget the impact that location can have on your brand, too; lean into local!
CRAFT YOUR BRAND VOICE
What's that mean? Your brand voices what your brand talks about. Your brand, put into words. It's how you relay the core and foundation of your brand: mission, vision, values. It's constant and reliable, and tells your audience who you are, what you do, what you believe, what you stand for, and what you have to offer. To that end—make sure it also comes through with your tone and your content. For example, snappy slogans are our favorite kinds of slogans—they tend to stick better in people's minds. What is it that makes your community special? Be sure this makes it into your brand voice—be it welcoming, sultry, or relaxed.
What you have to offer might be similar to your competition, but it can't all be exactly the same. Focus on what makes you different, and go for the gold. Have a rooftop lounge? Prove it. Get, and talk about it in your website copy. Ensure that whatever you do, you're not claiming something that isn't true—like a "resort-style pool" or a "state-of-the-art fitness center". Even if it's true, it doesn't sound that special anymore when everyone claims it. This is where brand voice is key to differentiating your marketing message.. Highlight what's unique and awesome about your spot.
SHOW UP ONLINE AND IN PERSON
It's the digital age, and you have to keep up. Make sure your website is beautiful and easy to navigate (don't overwhelm with content) and keep things streamlined. Additionally, having a strong social media presence is helpful. It creates a proper place to showcase the many sides of your community, and highlight your staff, your amenities, and set yourself apart from other communities in the area. In addition to keeping up online, you'll want to make sure your in-person, physical appearance gets as much attention (if not more). Curb appeal, brochures, mailers, everything that's touchable should line up perfectly with the branding you've already done—the same look, the same message.
SOCIAL PROOF: RESIDENT STORIES AND REVIEWS
Be sure to share resident success stories and/or testimonials. This helps tell another version of the story you've already been telling. It adds to the proof that your community really is as awesome as you've been saying. When you let your residents be the voice of the community, they can become the best brand ambassadors – and we all know word of mouth is the most trusted source. If your brand has done its job to form a lifestyle culture, they'll want to live there as much as they "have to hang" at the local brewery.
BE PART OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD
When you collaborate with local businesses and organizations near you, it's a win-win. Because you're able to partner and bring exclusive deals to your residents, it's a boost for your business (you're seen as helpful) and it bolsters your community relationships with local spots. Getting involved in local events or charities can get you some brownie points too. Showing up in places that you care gives the idea that you're not just a building on the street there—you're actually in and there for the community—that you care. And with more people caring about social causes than ever, that can help bump you up over the competition, too.
HOST COMMUNITY EVENTS
Get out there and make friends. Organize fun events for your residents. This can boost community spirit and give visitors just a taste of the kind of lifestyle they can lead at your community.
Bottom line: Branding's more than a logo. It's who you are, who you want to serve, and why. Having a clear set of brand guidelines will keep you steadily on that path while you work on getting more leases signed. Happy branding!