According to an article written by Ravi Kaneriya for the World Economic Forum, studies show that the key to happiness lies in having rich social bonds and meaningful relationships. And being part of a community is a powerful way to build those relationships in a faster, more scalable way.
The built environment is so much more than just bricks and mortar. It’s the foundation for the society we live in, the background for the magic that happens when people come together in a community.
In the competitive landscape of community living environments, communication best practice and brand perception is an essential component of any estate. Looking at the national growth of the estate environment and regular launch of new mixed-use developments, you’ll fully appreciate how challenging it’s become to differentiate your offering, drive your value proposition and create brand equity that will last long after the developer has exited.
The traditional structure of estate agents focusing on all-important sales momentum fails to promote the value of the development, enhance the brand, and build community sentiment. So the HOA has to apply the fundamentals of communication, both internally and externally. But, as they are inundated with the daily management of the estate, it may be best to bring in a professional to do so.
Understanding the brand’s essence
A development’s brand is its mark of distinction – it helps set it apart from similar properties, and holds out to the residents the promise of superior property values and investment potential. A credible brand, combined with a successful communication strategy, is essential for maintaining a strong and lasting presence, attracting investors who will be quick to purchase, encouraging third-party suppliers to offer their best services, enabling high staff performance, and retaining satisfied residents. The brand’s essence is the heart of the community, and that which has its residents invested in the all-encompassing lifestyle and ROI it has to offer.
Having defined what your brand stands for, and what you want to achieve, the next step is to create an authentic identity that speaks to these principles, and powerfully communicates the brand message. Aligning a creative interpretation of your development to the brand DNA translates into a synergistic expression of your product, backed with the clarity of on-point messaging framed in appropriate extensions that speak to the brand and product at every level. This depth of target market engagement is a powerful conduit through which to create a sense of place for your community. While the old adage of ‘location, location, location’ rings true for property, it also applies to the world of brand communication. Knowing not only whom you’re speaking to, but what you’re saying – taking timing into consideration and the all-important where and how – lies at the heart of successful estate brand communication.
You need an informed and strategically sound plan that takes into consideration the pace at which the world and communications technology are evolving. The plan needs to be holistic or you risk getting lost in the mix, and your loss of traction in the market is significantly amplified with dire results such as a decrease in property value or depreciation of community sentiment.
A cohesive marketing strategy takes into account who your audience is (both internal and external), the context of engagement, what you’re trying to say, and when and how you’re going to deliver your message. Working collaboratively with industry experts, such as Estate Living, forms a key anchor for your communication strategy. In this manner, strategic and consistent communication will create a depth of ‘place-making’ for your community that traditional channels simply can’t achieve. It’s important to create an understanding of, and relationship with, your brand for results that permeate far into your community – and beyond that of property sales. Use channels that are most relevant, and revered by platforms such as Google, for ease of reference and interaction.
Disruptive technologies, digital sharing and the need to future-proof are what is changing the estate landscape we are accustomed to. What does this mean for relationships, and the estate’s position in a transparent digital environment that craves ownership, and in which experiences are the largest asset? We live in incredible times. News travels the globe in an instant and music, movies, games, communication and knowledge are ever-available on always-connected devices. From IoT, sensory data and cloud computing to storage of centralised databases, our communities are being ‘disrupted’ and everything is becoming more accessible and affordable thanks to digitisation.
An online presence (website) needs to be followed through by an online strategy. Regularly updated content will enable your estate to perform favourably on search engines, be easily accessible by current and future investors, and be a credible showcase of the essence of your community. Don’t allow outside parties to drive your community’s perception – in this instance, no news is bad news.
Internal relations are just as important as external communication, if not more so. Taking an inside-out approach ensures that you’re all on the same page and ready to present a united brand message.
Consistency is key. Take a mid-to long-term view of the results your communication expert achieves in building your brand. A good campaign should take all of your business objectives into account, including both immediate opportunities and the long-term vision.
You are no stranger to Jaimé-Lee Gardner and Louise Martin, and their passion for the residential estate community. It is this passion that has driven them over the last 10 years, and has built a thriving business that assists residential and mixed-use developments to build their brand, drive their asset value, educate their members, and get them involved and engaged in their communities.
Estate Living is a portfolio of businesses that includes a community business development consultancy, digital and video platforms, a publishing house, sales lead generation, and a marketing agency. Estate Living builds and connects communities of like-minded people across the country through identifying key common ground, sharing information, and building relationships with individual estates and the community at large.
Profile your community on estate-living.co.za, and let Estate Living drive your community essence through video interviews and other exciting content.