What will property branding trends look like in a post-pandemic world? We’ve already seen video content increasing and virtual tours becoming more prevalent, so what’s next?
In this article, Jeff Breazeale, Founding Partner at Matchbox Studio in Dallas, explains how you can take your property’s branding to the next level in 2021.
What Will Be the Top Property Branding Trends in 2021 and Beyond?
There are dozens of trends that will shape property marketing in a post-pandemic world. Increases in virtual and self-guided tours, live chats, video content, social engagement, the list goes on and on. In every case, the driving theme is “contactless.” Implementing new processes to guide prospective tenants in new and safe ways are requirements for success in 2021 and beyond. The pandemic hasn’t only created new challenges, it’s created new norms and expectations around the delivery of products and services. By necessity, marketers move fast to stay on top of these trends, but how do these new delivery systems and processes impact the commercial real estate brands we build? Is anyone thinking about that?
The bottom-line question is this: With fewer opportunities for talented leasing teams to guide prospects through the process, who will fill the void of powerful messaging and persuasive sales? The clear answer is the brand.
Effective commercial projects are built around quality and differentiation, but leases are signed on emotion. While every property touts its differences, so much of the offering is staggeringly similar once we move beyond fitness centers, finish-outs, wellness initiatives and square footage. This is where branding and marketing have traditionally stepped in to act as a megaphone – amplifying and broadcasting the unique attributes that make each property stand out. While in some cases these attributes are concrete and physical (amenities, services, finishes, etc.), the most effective marketing serves to create an emotional connection between the tenant and the property and the area. It should enable decision-makers to picture themselves within the space and tap far more into emotion than logic.
In a 2016 Psychology Today article titled “The Myth of the Rational Consumer,” Ph.D. Psychologist Peter Noel Murray explains that “For [luxury] consumers, it is not enough that a product is well designed and crafted with the best materials and workmanship. The luxury brands they treasure have the rare and intangible quality of truth… Luxury brand truth is a visceral connection between the consumer and the brand. While this truth arises from a product’s design and features, it is primarily brought about by a deeper understanding of a brand’s essence. Truth is expressed in narrative and other communication which breathes life into the brand, evoking perceptions of authenticity and timelessness.”
Brand truth, brand essence, brand narratives… these are all in the realm of brand identity, messaging and marketing. In an increasingly contactless future, it will land increasingly on the brands themselves to convey this message and convince consumers that your property will deliver on the aspirational vision of luxury they have in their mind’s eye.
So how do we create brands that connect at this visceral level? And how do we do it in a way that the brand itself can carry, without a guided tour by a leasing agent?
Go Beyond Baseline Demographics
We can’t tap into the emotional triggers that drive leases if we don’t dig deep into understanding the psychology of our market. Of course, every market is different, and I would argue that every property within a market has the opportunity to be different. Your brand process should take a close look at who is leasing in your specific submarket (not just your city or region). What drives their decisions? Are they bottom-line oriented? Or will they spare no expense to attract the best talent? Who are their employees? Where do they live? Paint a detailed picture of your audience (likely several different profiles), and learn the language of brands they connect with. Tapping into this will create personal, emotional connections.
Amplify the Characteristics of Your Market That Make It Unique
In the same way we need to know our audience, we need to dig into our specific submarket and understand what gives it character. Most tenants have identified an area for their search, and beyond the basic factors of commute times and proximity to amenities, they’re looking to identify with a specific lifestyle. Understanding that lifestyle, and how your submarket, your neighborhood, even your street – support that lifestyle, gives you tools to develop a brand that mirrors and enhances that image. In short, your prospect has an idea of their typical workday experience – let’s deliver it to them before they even set foot on the property by building a brand that amplifies it.
Be Willing to Take Risks for Attention
Premium brands don’t stand out by following market trends, premium properties shouldn’t either. While it’s prudent to design and build properties that will stand the test of time, your brand and marketing campaigns are the place to take some risks and stand out from the crowd. A brand, and particularly print and digital marketing materials, can evolve with the times – all the more reason to be bold out of the gates. Take what gives your property character and turn the knob to 11.
In the End, Authenticity Wins
None of the above works if the message is overly contrived. Your brand will only strike a true emotional connection with your prospect if the product delivers on the promise. Keep in mind that we’re amplifying, not inventing. Dig deep to find the characteristics of your target audience and your unique location and product, and bring those to life in vibrant ways – don’t invent a new narrative that you can’t deliver. Today’s consumers are incredibly sharp, and they see malarkey from a mile away – long before they ever set foot on your property.
At the end of the day, what has always been important in branding will not change dramatically, but its importance will skyrocket as our customers peer into our products from behind masks and screens. Use every touchpoint as an opportunity not just to sell features, but to establish the emotional connections that will ultimately drive the decision to make your property home for a company.
To continue learning about marketing your commercial property, check out these articles:
- 10 Best Examples of Commercial Real Estate Video Marketing
- Virtual Tours for Your Commercial Property: Everything You Need to Know
- 7 Videos You Should Be Using to Market Your Commercial Real Estate Property (Examples)