This might sound like a marketing cliche…and perhaps it is, but this is one of those times that the nugget of truth embedded in a cliche makes it worth saying (again). So, here it is: The basis of good marketing is a well-built brand, and knowing how to share your brand’s story.

As you know, bridging the gap between strategy, story, and design to make renters feel, “I want to live THERE” is the branding dance multifamily marketers choreograph every. single. day. Simple, right? Well…when you’re backed by the best (in our opinion), yes. 

G5 and LeaseLabs teamed up for an OPTECH session and shared: how to successfully build and implement a standout brand for your business? If you missed the sage-on-the-stage version, we’ve got you covered with the big-ideas-in-the-blog version. 

What Is a Brand? 

But first, the basics. We all interact with branding daily. Brands can be so ingrained in our day-to-day experiences that sometimes (even as marketers), we don’t pause to think about what makes up a brand.

If you asked three people what makes up a brand, you might get three different answers. The first person will say it’s their messaging (taglines, headlines, and copy), the second will claim it’s all about their visual identity (logo, color palette, patterns, and typography), and the third will be adamant that it’s their experience (on-site teams, website, culture, appearance, and service levels). All of these opinions are partially right and serve as elements to bring a brand to life, but they’re not capable of carrying an entire brand on their own. Bottom line: the sum of the branding parts is greater than their individual contributions.

A brand is a reflection of your property or company’s belief system. At its best, your brand is a story. It’s the story that shares what your properties and communities are all about, and why your company even exists in the first place. 

How to Build Your Brand

In this blog, good ideas come in pairs. We’ll break down two of the big steps to tackle when building a brand. 

  • Find Your Brand Position

You, and your brand, can’t be everything to everyone. So instead of spreading yourself thin, you need to double down on what makes your brand unique. Visualize this like the diagram below. There are three areas you need to spend time identifying in order to find the impactful brand intersection in the middle: defining your purpose, understanding the competition, and knowing your customer.

By defining your purpose we do not mean some soul-searching quest that takes you off the grid for the foreseeable future. What we DO mean is, putting pen to paper and thinking critically about what your company does really well, and who your company is. 

They say comparison is the thief of joy. So, know that this next exercise of understanding your competitors isn’t about comparison, it’s about understanding and differentiating yourself. The more you know, the better you will be able to set your brand apart in the market. Identify their visual components, their messaging, and their brand pillars or mission statement. Then, steer clear of replicating it. Why? Renters are savvy, they know when you aren’t being authentic. To be an authentic and consistent brand, your internal culture must align with your external messaging. You don’t want to be a copy-cat business. You want to position your brand firmly in your brand’s purpose and attract renters accordingly. 

Finally, three words: know your customers. This is the core of any good marketing message. Know their needs, wants, fears, and what they’re looking for. How? Simple. Ask questions, get out and talk with people, read your properties’ online reviews, research industry trends and renters’ reactions to them. Consumers have digital microphones like never before, and they aren’t afraid to use them, so pay attention to what they’re saying. 

  • Establish Your Audience

This can feel tricky for many marketers, particularly multifamily marketers. I mean…everyone needs a place to call home, so couldn’t anyone be your audience? Marketers often get a little hung up on defining their audience (either too narrow or too broad)…or just missing the mark altogether.

Here are 5 “Ws” to consider to determine your audience: 

    • What: Resonates with the audience?
    • Where: Does the audience spend their time in the neighborhood?
    • When: The audience has a clear list of priorities, when do those priorities connect with your property’s offerings? For example, a researching renter has a dog and your property is dog friendly. Win-win. 
    • Why: What makes the audience tick? Try to imagine the “why” behind apartment renters’ searches. 
    • Who: Don’t start here. This is the culmination of the other Ws.

The best part about the 5 Ws above? They make you consider the property and the day-in-the-life of what that property offers. 

How to Implement Your Brand

Here’s our next dynamic duo. This is more of the tactical, day-to-day diligence of building a brand. 

  • Make Your Brand Stick

For your brand to be memorable (and differentiated from your competitors) there needs to be something sticky about it. It’s an ongoing process, but the basis is building strong relationships. Okay…that feels ridiculously abstract, so let’s get tactical. 

Based on G5 data, we know that on average, researching renters interact digitally with your property 38 times before they reach out via a phone call or form fill. Where are they when that’s happening? Likely on your digital real estate — website, social media, or Google My Business (GMB). 

After they call or fill out a website form, they’re interacting with your sales and marketing team. What’s an interaction? It’s a connection. Each of these interactions has an opportunity to build connection, and if done well, can result in brand loyalty in the form of signing a lease, positive GMB reviews, referring a friend, or engaging in onsight activities. Loyalty strengthens the relationship even further. 

  • Keep It Consistent

We can not emphasize this strongly enough: consistency is KEY. Your brand will absolutely fail long-term if you do not keep this top of mind. Remember those relationships we talked about in the section above? When you build strong relationships, you’re known for a certain kind of message, look and feel, and experience. When you don’t deliver consistency, your brand can come across as flaky and not trustworthy (or worse, unmemorable).

Good brands are easily identifiable. They have consistent visual aesthetics and messaging across all touchpoints — both digitally and in-person. Brand guidelines that cover messaging, visuals, and touchpoint-experiences into both your brand’s vision and strategy are vital to ensuring that your brand doesn’t veer off course. 

Let’s Get to Work(book)

Identifying your brand, and envisioning how it comes to life in everything from a social media post to an in-person tour is a big task. It isn’t a simple back-of-the-napkin calculation, which is why we teamed up with LeaseLabs to create this Brand Strategy Workbook. Download the workbook today to continue building your brand.