Recently, a client sent us a link to one of their competitors’ websites. He asked: “Why do you think this building is still empty – the brand looks good, the site is informative, the floors are handed over fitted out, visionary architecture, decent facilities management – what’s gone wrong?”
We’d already started investigating this particular building and, likewise the first impressions were pretty good. A great concept, the developer had invested in the branding, commissioned some great photos – complete with stylist input and models. It was packaged stylishly, and up went the website. Then, the developer sat back and waited for the tenants to roll in and sign up to their highly desirable product. It didn’t happen.
Here are a few reasons why we think it went south:
There’s a disconnection between the brand and the reality
The reality and the brand are as far apart as Bengal is to Southampton… and that’s quite a way! The building is pretty much constructed, but the brand was built on the promise of what the tower offers today, not in 2-5 years when the building and surrounding infrastructure was finished. Drive in to the building and you’ll see what we mean. You can’t. It’s impossible to access the car park. The few tenants occupying the building have to park a number of metres away from it, trawl through the sand, and dust down before starting work. Not good.
The premium brand positioning and leasing rates contradict each other
Premium brands command premium rates, regardless of whether you are buying a watch, car or a property – the principle is the same. If a real estate brand shouts about its construction and finishing standards, top notch facilities management, international architecture, etc you wonder why the leasing rates are rock bottom. If the product was a watch, you’d ask yourself: “Is this a fake, will it stop working after a month, what’s wrong with it?” In dropping the prices, perhaps they shot themselves in the foot? Lowered the value of the brand? Given off the wrong signals?
There’s no evidence of a marketing campaign
Armed with their wonderfully crafted product brand, it seemed to have stopped there. The website sits there doing nothing. We suspect the budget didn’t stretch to strategic marketing, or any marketing at all for that matter. Building a product brand and not marketing it is a grave mistake and a waste of money. Unless someone stumbles upon it by chance, who’s going to know about it? In this case, we searched Google for offices to rent in the masterplan – nothing came up apart from a 3rd party listing on page 4.
No construction updates for a year
Another oversight we often see is when real estate developers insist on having a news/construction update page that they don’t update for long periods of time. In this case, a year had passed. SEO issues aside, what message does this give off?
Lack of relevant messaging
This particular real estate brand screams style, style, style. We wonder if it’s a case of style over substance? We couldn’t find a single message within the literature that echoed anything other than style and vision. Largely de-sensitized to glitzy brochures, prospective tenants want to know more these days. Detail is king.
Don’t ignore the context
Although they may feel like it at times, developers can’t complete the work of the master developer. Tell prospective tenants what you are doing to lobby the developer to deliver their part of the deal. It’s a mistake to mislead and paint a rosy picture of a visionary masterplan if it’s still under construction.
Successfully branding and marketing real estate developments is a complex matter that requires a high level of strategic planning on all fronts – a surface-level branding exercise might look good, but lasting success requires a lot more than that.
When we meet prospective clients, we’re always asked: “how can you help us?”
Tell us your story to date – your challenges and successes and we will prepare you a bespoke proposal with your specific needs and budget in mind.
The Brand Foundation is a Dubai-based branding agency that specialises in the real estate sector. http://www.thebrandfoundation.net