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Rebranding Properites - Entry Sign

May 28, 2015

Is It Time To Rebrand Your Property?

Take a look at your property. Is your property brand dated or tired? Is it generic and unmemorable? Are you losing renters or buyers to newer, flashier developments? Have you added amenities but feel you're not getting the desired responses and new inquires? Or, are you thinking about updates, but are not sure what shape they should take, or how to get the most return on your investment?

If any of these ring true, it may be time to consider rebranding your property.

What's in a brand?
Your property, like Coke or Apple, is a brand. Much more than just a logo, your brand is the sum total of all the touch points, or interactions, that your customer has with your business, from your marketing and promotions to spaces and faces. It is the set of perceptions built up in the mind of your customers, clients, employees and the public. A brand is working when those perceptions are positive, when they are what you intended. If you want your brand to be "fun and vibrant", yet in reality it is perceived as quiet and laid back, it's time to reassess and realign. Or if your intended audience is young hipsters, but your brand says "1980s, and not the cool kind of 1980s", then something is a disconnect and needs to be changed.

 
Your brand should be consistent, ownable and authentic
 

Taking a leap forward by first stepping back
Okay. You've determined that you need to rebrand. The best place to start is with a little brand soul searching—not always an easy or comfortable task. What are your goals for the property? Who is the competition? Who is your target market? Is the property, as it stands, desirable to that target audience? If not, you may need consider changing your property or your target market. What is special about the property, location and service? And, so on. These insights will inform a new brand position, one that defines clearly your property's strategic approach (tip: designers and strategic marketing planners can help with brand positioning). The brand position should serve as your North Star for all the work that follows. Each brand touchpoint, from your logo to your website to your signage, should be crafted to support the brand position. Your brand should be consistent, ownable and authentic for your marketing efforts to be most effective.

A new chapter
One of our clients understood that they needed to make a change to their non-descript and dated apartment home complex brand. They defined their audience as empty nesters, pet lovers and people making transitions in their lives. They added a dog park, free coffee and other amenities. They had already started to make updates to the property and understood that they needed to rebrand to compete against newer properties and to reach their new audiences. The property manager had an eye for décor and had started to explore a steamship-era theme, in part due to the property's location in Plymouth, Minnesota on Harbor Lane.

 
Rebranding Properites - Currents Branding
 

We jumped onboard and came up with a new name for the property, "Currents" and the tagline "Destination Home". The identity included abstracted "current" lines in the logo and stars, representing quality and navigation. Angled stripes also helped play out the currents theme. We created business cards, letterhead, envelopes, mailing labels, notification cards, key tags, a website, and more. Everything had a vintage feel, with a nod to luggage tags and travel stamps. But, more importantly, everything was well-designed, creative, on brand and on message.

 
Rebranding Properites - Currents Monument Sign
 

Then we went on to bring the brand to life in the space. We created a monument sign that incorporated thick rusty steel and rivets like the side of an old ship, which steamed through brushed aluminum "waves". The sign was a natural extension of the brand: fun, friendly, unexpected and high-quality.

 
Rebranding Properites - Currents Entry Graphics
 

We created parking signage for each entrance, and made-over the entryway with a combination of metal signage, paint, a color palette change, window graphics and other elements.

 
Rebranding Properites - Currents Landmark Sign
 

Sometimes, you need to go big or go home! To this end, we created an impressive and whimsical sculptural element for the main entrance circle. The whale element sets the complex apart from all local competition and is an unforgettable, unexpected and perfectly apropo expression of the brand. It also helps establish Currents as a recognizable landmark in the community.

 
Rebranding Properites - Marketing Wall Graphics
 
Rebranding Properites - Marketing Wall
 

While some elements were new, others were simply creative ways to work with what was already there and make what we did do work hard. For example, we created wall graphics that communicated the key brand messages and functioned as wayfinding vs. just being decorative.

The end result is a brand that is distinct and memorable in the marketplace, creates a strong sense of place and is appropriate for the vibe of the property. Whether you have an old or new property, a well-done, thoughtful brand can set you apart, communicate positively to your audience and create a great feel.

 
Your brand should be consistent, ownable and authentic
 

Here are some rebranding tips:

1. Put a dedicated budget together. Consider the value of branding vs. other investments. Do it right and it will pay dividends for years to come.

2. Hire a professional, reputable graphic design firm who understand both branding and branded environments and signage—and then allow them to consider all aspects of your brand. While you may need to make choices about what moves forward into execution, the clients who gain the most from the design process are those who let the designers swing for the fences in the early phases. Often magic happens and you get something better and more insightful than you could have dreamed of. At the same time, be clear about your goals, objectives and aspirations. It is a matter of recognizing the difference between constructive parameters which designers use to push their thinking and limitations which are meant to control the designer but end up hampering the process.

3. Bring the outside consultant team together early in the process with key internal staff, but keep the internal group small and focused. “Design by committee” dilutes the investment you are making in using a quality firm.

4. Define the audience that you want to pursue and then design to that audience. "Everyone" is not an audience to which one can cater; therefore, you can not differentiate yourself when you start with such a wide net.

5. Think about what you offer your customers. Adapt ideas from other industries; sometime innovation is simply an existing idea applied to a new market.

6. Think big! A bold, well-thought out move will make a bigger impression and may not cost much more than several smaller moves.

7. The devil's in the details. Follow the brand through every touchpoint. Create a comprehensive brand culture or system. (Yes, I know it sounds contradictory to number 6. But a key attribute of good designers is the ability to change perspectives from the micro to the macro at the drop of a hat, like the Charles and Ray Eames film, The Power of 10.) Consider how all the physical expressions of your brand are part of the system, including naming, logo, brand culture, collateral, website, signage and branded environments, social media, customer service, and even programming.

8. Define the key brand attributes and messages that should be expressed.

9. Keep the design firm engaged throughout implementation; they can help ensure that the project is executed in a way that lives up to its potential.


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