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Building blocks of real estate branding

When all projects look the same
Originally called the bricks and mortar business, the vertical of real estate by far is one of the most challenging as far as branding is concerned. The challenge is to give a personality to the product (read project) that is still on drawing board or is a semi-finished monster-like structure. How can we add a value proposition to it through branding so that people come to believe us and buy an apartment, an office space or a shop when all the projects look the same, have similar offerings, pricing, and layouts. Even companies like DLF, Omaxe, and Lodhas do not surprisingly hold enough brand equity to make their products stand out as signature projects and become huge unparalleled draws.

In such a similar “business cape”, the marketer has to work on even a slender differentiation or a subtle differentiating factor like the features of the clubhouse or presence or absence of a swimming pool. The architecture of buildings coming up in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, too, is overwhelmingly modernist and presents an ideal utilization of space with insipid form and function, than being aesthetic. So, where do we begin the process of branding and how do we carry it forward through unique communication and distinct tonality with emotional appeal. Well, that makes it a very loaded proposition. But here are a few cases of how we went about doing it our way.

Luxury—the Homeland way
We did it smartly in the case of Homeland Heights, a distinctive residential address, in the heart of Mohali. The communication was smartly woven around luxury, and black and golden colours were
profusely used while designing the brochure. Real project pictures were not used to avoid the jarring feel. The project was positioned as a luxury home that came with the added advantage of location. The
seven-tier security became an alluring feature for Punjabi cinema and song celebrities. And once two or three celebrities had invested, their stories and testimonials were made viral on social media and radio that saw more of their tribe investing here. Tempo was maintained on ground activations like sponsoring social and environmental events. Another stratagem was to sponsor band
performances where the millennials and those in the late 20s flocked. They were comfortably sold the idea of becoming neighbours of  celebrities, and with kids impelling the parents; the project was houseful within a few months.

 

A project that “ecos”
A similar tactic was employed in selling the Green Lotus Avenue, Zirakpur. The project had a few eco-differentiating features which made the project Gold Certified by IGBC. The natural themes and
motifs were profusely used in the main brochure, gatefold brochure, advertisements, social media posts, and digital advertising. There were on ground activations like sapling distribution to create an enormous amount of curiosity for the project, which ultimately resulted in sales.

 

Branding the commercial project
The problem of finding a differentiating feature, however, is more confounding in the commercial projects. What can make the customer choose one project over another?  A classic case is of Social Square, a project of the HLP Group. With an avalanche of commercial projects coming up within an area of 10 square kilometers,
with similar features, same market pitch, we were really at a loss to configure ideal branding and advertising pitch that could do the wonder. We knew that visual content was more appealing but the
question was how to make it relevant especially when the project still awaited the ground breaking ceremony! A campaign idea was conceived based on evocative and creative imagery, which makes the
project stand in a league of its own. We are in process of conceiving a distinctive and yet differentiated communication of the project and for an amazing summer sale of Social Square.

Consistent communications and constant branding effort
Real estate branding exercise needs a deep focus on online promotions and content marketing. The effort should be largely focused on lead generating besides creating brand awareness. Any effort at
branding that is not marketing-friendly and doesn’t generate leads is futile. Social media and  content funnel development should be integral to branding the real estate project. The website should have a blog that carries research driven content based on lifestyle issues, healthy living tips, etc. The blog should be rich to make the website rank higher in search results. There should be extensive use of images and sub-headers. The online publication should have a consistent schedule for updation. The blog should be shared on all social media platforms for an extensive reach on the World Wide Web. All write-ups on the Internet should be accompanied by a clear call to action. It could be asking the reader to share it on their social handles. And, above all, the entire communication effort across the platforms should be consistent. The traditional media and the online media should reinforce each other to make the message resonate among the customer. Same campaign, one at a time, should be run across the various media. Similarly, the artworks should be the same and the core visual identity of the company should not be compromised at any cost. Building a brand needs a sincere and honest effort and building a lasting brand requires a greater effort still.