Tag Archives: Landor Associates

Realty in search of first-movers of holistic branding-III

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor Associates

Lulu Raghavan, Landor Associates, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Once a promise has been defined, all the customer touch points need to be mapped. Everything from the website to marketing collateral to what the CEO says about the company to how the telephone is answered at corporate headquarters should reflect the promise of the corporate brand.

For example, if you have chosen Quality as your defining promise then you can not have a shoddy, poorly designed website that takes a long time to load, a brochure that has compromised on the paper used to print it or a sales team member who wears a shirt that has not been ironed.

All these touch points either reinforce what the brand stands for in the eyes of the consumer or not. Managing the customer experience of the brand is most critical. This process is true for any brand in any industry. It is all the more critical in real estate, because as stated earlier, this is once in a lifetime purchase for consumers and every touch point creates an impression about the brand they are buying into and gives them total assurance for the purchase.

Then comes the product/property branding. You have to find a source of relevant differentiation for the product brand, based on a rigorous analysis of all functional and emotional attributes that the product can credibly deliver.

What you arrive at has to be both relevant to consumers as well as different from what your competitors are offering. Brands built on parity offerings will not stand the test of time. This is a mistake that many real estate brands make by not creating product level differentiation.

Once the product brand’s uniqueness has been agreed, you then have to determine the appropriate degree of linkage with the corporate brand – a strong endorsement, a light endorsement or no visible endorsement at all? There are strategic reasons for choosing each option and it varies by company. This is what is typically referred to as brand architecture.

A real estate brand may choose to build just one brand – its corporate brand – and use that to strongly endorse all products. Or it may choose to develop separate sub-brands for each product with varying degrees of linkage with the corporate brand. Or the third option is to develop separate product brands with no visible linkage to the corporate brand.

All three are equally viable options from a commercial perspective. Here again, market, consumer, competitive and company factors have to be considered in determining the right solution.

The customer experience of buying the product brand must be defined very rigorously as well. This is the only way to ensure that footfalls created through communications will result in genuine purchase interest and then, potentially, sales.

Every aspect of the potential buyer’s journey should be mapped. The buyer’s functional and emotional needs should be kept in mind and the brand’s response at each touch point carefully thought through in a way that is true to its relevant differentiation that has been defined.

The biggest watch out in real estate branding is the connect between promise and delivery. Under promising and over delivering is a much smarter strategy than vice versa which as we know has become the norm. The time is ripe and the real estate brand that seizes this window of opportunity to strengthen its brand is sure to see the impact on its business.

It is a relatively new industry, going through its own learning curve. But in my opinion, the real estate is definitely in search of first-movers on holistic branding. They will be the company who will reap the benefits, and also define the brand standards of the sector.

Having said this, I am not sure how many of them would be willing to invest in a long road map of branding, at a time when selling the project seems to be the only motto.

Realty in search of first-movers of holistic branding-II

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor Associates

Lulu Raghavan, Landor Associates, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: So if there is a real estate brand in India that wants to fully realize the benefits of branding to drive its business forward, what is the way forward?

Recognise that branding in real estate cannot be treated the way it is done in other industries, specifically fast moving consumer goods. The dynamics of the market are quite different. Buying a home is a high involvement purchase. Most consumers buy at most one – if lucky then perhaps two – homes in their lifetimes.

The frequency of purchase is therefore almost none. It is a very high involvement category, as consumers will scrutinize all aspects of the product before deciding to invest a big amount of their money upfront. At every step of the way, the brand has to come across as trustworthy, dependable and reliable.

It is also not easy to change your decision once you have made a purchase decision. And in this industry, word of mouth plays a very significant role in the branding process. Consumers are more likely to take the recommendation of their friends of family about a brand’s reputation rather than self-promotional advertising alone.

And most importantly, consumers now have a plethora of options that allow them to be very discerning about what your brand’s real differentiation is. So clichés about “affordable living” and “lifestyle enhancing” homes are just that. Brands need to be authentic about their promise, not just copy what everyone else is saying.

Beyond product functionality (the specifics of the property that consumers will scrutinize), consumers will be asking how the brand makes them feel and how it will make them look to others. This means that real estate brands have to create emotional as well as aspirational value in their brand promises as well.

Trust, reliability, peace of mind, pride of association are some of the brand attributes that will need to be built up over time through successful execution of projects and delivery of promises to consumers that build the brand’s reputation.

So, let us delve deep into the process of branding. Fundamentally, a real estate brand exists to serve the interests of the business. A strong brand image can create awareness, trial, preference and word of mouth, all of which are directly linked to the health of the business.

Strong brand images are not built overnight through advertising alone but through the repeated delivery of consistent customer experiences over a period of time. The essence of branding is managing expectations. Make a promise. Keep a promise. Brands must be consistently managed across all touch points so that what the brand stands for is reflected at every point, every time the consumer comes in contact with the brand.

Real estate developers in India must start by defining their corporate brands. Consumers are always interested in the “who” behind the properties. Who is standing behind this development? What do they uniquely stand for against their competitive set? Why should I believe them? Are they easier to do business with?

Do they have a successful track record worthy of the claims they are making? Is their promise exciting and compelling to me personally? These are just a few questions that will need to be answered in shaping the promise of the corporate brand. What the brand stands for must be arrived at after a thorough examination of the market, consumers, competitors and the company itself.

…to be continued

Realty in search of first-movers of holistic branding-I

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor Associates

Lulu Raghavan, Landor Associates, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: As a brand management professional, I am often asked as to which industry in India needs branding the most. Without any second thoughts, my answer is real estate. Prima facie that may sound very counterintuitive as real estate is after all a big advertising spender.

We see endless full-page ads in leading newspapers from real estate companies on an almost daily basis. Drive down major highways in the metros and the biggest hoardings are all screaming about the newest lifestyle development that you just have to pour your life savings into.

However, advertising is only one aspect of branding. By over-emphasizing this aspect while paying very little attention to what it really takes to build a successful brand, Indian developers have by and large gotten themselves and their industry into a crisis of consumer confidence.

How many stories have we heard about our friends and family members being taken for a ride by a developer? Buildings abandoned mid-way through construction because the necessary permits were not secured.

False advertising claiming swimming pools and other amenities are made, but the developer does not bother to fully complete before delivering a property. Handover of possessions severely delayed due to inexplicable reasons.

These are only a few recurring themes of broken promises by many real estate brands.  I am sure there are many more horror stories that have perhaps left consumers rather scarred about investing in the industry at all.

It does not help to build trust with consumers that a group of private developers have been vigorously lobbying against the Government’s Real Estate Regulatory Bill that will bring in transparency and customer-friendly policies to the industry amongst other things sorely needed. This opposition to regulation reflects poorly on the developer community at large and could be a real death knell for real estate brands.

Is there a real estate brand out there that is willing to stand up against the sorry state of affairs? A brand that is willing to take responsibility and change the way things have been? A brand that wants to build meaningful relationships with consumers? The opportunity exists and the first mover will surely reap leadership benefits. These are probably over expectations for a sector where even the mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is seen as a liability.

This reminds me of ex-BP CEO Lord John Brown who in his defining 1997 Stamford speech changed the way oil companies thought and behaved forever – “Ladies and Gentleman, climate change is a reality and we are partly responsible…the challenge for all of us is to find ways to transcend what appears to be a harsh trade-off between the desire for economic growth and rising living standards on the one hand and the equally strong desire for a clean environment on the other.”

BP was the first to put in place environment friendly policies and embrace the harsh challenges of climate change. That it significantly veered away from its promise to the environment is the subject for another debate, but the BP example does show that if somebody is determined to change the way an industry operates and to eliminate wrong doings, other brands will follow suite. Think Chevron’s “Human Energy” or Exxon Mobil’s “Taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges.

…to be continued