Can a builder rebrand his portfolio or corporate identity when his existing homebuyers are taking to streets and are silenced with threatening and criminal cases? Paras Buildtech seems to think so. Instead of addressing the grievances of the homebuyers the developer goes on an expensive rebranding spree. Ravi Sinha writes an open letter. Â
I was amusingly surprised to see your cover jacket advertisement with the national editions of two leading newspapers, Times of India and Hindustan Times. It was also displayed on the billboards all around the city. However, the journalist in me could neither figure out the objective of this flaunt nor could I make out the benefits of this costly overdrive.
The ad spend might have been peanuts to you but I feel had the amount been spent on addressing the legitimate grievances of your existing customers it would have earned you much better image makeover.
Any way! It is your choice where to spend the money, for reasons fair or foul. But being a resident of one of your projects, Paras Tierea, Sector 137, Noida Expressway, I can vouchsafe after my interactions with the fellow residents that the rebranding has not gone down well with the sulking homebuyers. There is a general feeling that the builder is spending a fortune at the cost of the buyers but not spending anything to address the concerns of poor construction and poor upkeep of the society.
As a journalist who speacialises in brand management, including the brand rating & ranking of Indian real estate companies, I do agree with most of the objections been raised by your customers. While the residents of Paras Tierea were venting out their frustration & anger in the WhatsApp Group created by the society residents, I was rather trying to understand the very objective of the advertising campaign.
Was it meant to sell your unsold inventory? I donâ€™t think so. Had this been the case the project that you would have liked to sell must have been highlighted. Was it meant to address the investors for future funding? It seems to be highly unlikely as the financial credentials of the company was glaringly missing in the ad campaign. Was it meant to rebrand the corporate ethos? Unfortunately, the ad raised more questions than it could answer any about the corporate identity or any strategic shift in corporate ethos.
To me it looked more like a confused and desperate act of a builder who simple does not know how to deal with the growing number of dissatisfied customers. After all, false and fraudulent cases have also failed to silence the dissatisfied homebuyers. Threatening to the residents by the facility management and the security guards has backfired time and again.
With more and more residents coming out in the open, as now residents of Paras Seasons are also meeting the residents of Paras Tierea to join hands for a common fight, the ad in a way only says â€˜Paras too has financial clout to flaunt as a companyâ€™.
In my understanding of the brand and corporate branding, the message with your advertising campaign was vague and esoteric. The two-page advertising did nowhere spelt out the USP or the market differentiation of a developer who has delivered a few projects and is going to add up significantly to the portfolio.
At a time when some of the responsible developers are roping in the buyers as their brand ambassadors and leveraging with the desirable element of trust quotient, the ad campaign of yours was glaringly missing with the most important element of â€˜Happy Homebuyersâ€™.
Your advertising focus on â€˜Tomorrowâ€™ with this new brand campaign only made the residents of Paras Tierea ridicule with slogans like â€˜No hope of improvement todayâ€™ and â€˜Tomorrow never comesâ€™.
Though I may not agree with all the humour that the campaign could generate among the existing buyers, this much I would say that the campaign did not make any sense to me. It could neither impress as a corporate rebranding nor as a developer who needs to re-strategise in order to deal with the ever growing number of dissatisfied buyers.
I would like to remind you Mr Nagar that the brands are not built on billboards but in the minds and hearts of the target audience, both existing customers as well as the potential customers. Do you even understand the power of word-of-mouth publicity sir? It can make a brand, elevate its positioning and earn you scores of referral customers.
For your kind information, let me share with you that as per our market study with Track2Realty no less than one-third buyers in most of the projects today are referral buyers. Another one-third buy the project after so much of due diligence and cross checking with the past customers through friends & relatives that they can also be conveniently termed as the referral buyers.
Sadly, for you this double-edged sword of word-of-mouth publicity has only earned you negativity and future potential turn offs. And you just can not blame the victims as the villains for highlighting their plight and agony in the public domain gentleman.
The homebuyers approached your office time and again for reconciliation and course correction. Please understand that it is not just about the poor construction quality of your project but even more problematic is the attitude of the facility staff. A one-time fraud, even with construction quality, does not affect the brand equity as much as the constant deception.
My personal feeling is that you are surrounded by the kind of â€˜Yes Menâ€™ who do not wish the issues to be sorted out. May be their survival depends on the â€˜politics of confusionâ€™ around you that empowers them by organizational default in hierarchy.
Had you spent the money that you spend on self-glorifying advertising, you would have made a brand differentiation in a market like Noida that is notorious for the lack of best practices. But then I personally feel it is the deadly combination of ignorance coupled with arrogance that failed you as a responsible developer. You could not create a market disruption despite of having the resources, both financial and otherwise, to emerge as a credible brand.
These are anyway my personal opinion and I write this open letter to you with the right intention of reminding you that it is never too late to make a fresh beginning. You can still win over your existing buyers.
Trust me! Based on my interaction with them, I must tell you that a large majority of these gullible buyers have bare minimum expectations. Even after having bought a house with their lifetime savings, and being harassed & humiliated due to poor construction and even more pathetic maintenance, they can still be won over in due course of time if you come forward with an open mind to listen and address their legitimate concerns.
The big question Mr Nagar today is whether you sincerely want to rebrand Paras Buildtech as a responsible developer or a seasoned corporate entity. You can yet again conveniently ignore my open letter or the grey issues been raised here. After all, living in denial is a pretty convenient option sir. But then the easy way out is not really the best way out. Â It is definitely not the way forward for a builder who has weathered the unprecedented consumer grievances and aspires to be elevated as a serious corporate entity.
A journalist been forced to be critic