February 23, 2023
3 Steps to Master-Planned Community Brand Differentiation
Master-planned communities are a blank canvas, and your team should take a deliberate approach to leverage the unique brand DNA of your community to differentiate it in your market from the very beginning. A unique brand position contributes to placemaking and helps to drive interest and traffic to your community. At Milesbrand we partner with our clients From Land to Brand to elevate the vision of the community and create a memorable, strategic brand to provide a competitive advantage.
In today’s market, home buyers have access to a wealth of information on community and home options, so your approach has to go deeper. You must build out a brand strategy that makes an immediate connection with your target market. People are inundated today with ads so it’s critical to cut through the clutter with beautiful imagery, compelling copy, and a unique brand position. It’s about how people feel when they see your brand - can they imagine themselves thriving here and putting down roots? It’s critical to lead with a multi-faceted branding strategy that speaks to the emotional process of buying a home. With this in mind, focusing on lifestyle and differentiating from the competition is critical.
If your team is starting a journey with a new master-planned community, it is important to make sure you approach this type of development strategically. In this guide, we'll walk you through Milesbrand’s three-step proprietary approach to master-planned community brand differentiation and how to build the right roadmap for marketing any master-planned community.
Why Does Brand Differentiation Matter for Master-Planned Communities?
Master-planned communities are more than just a subdivision. They're a precisely planned, self-contained community of neighborhoods. They have urban or suburban housing as well as amenities like neighborhood parks, trails, gardens, fitness centers, swimming pools, and recreation centers. Some master-planned communities may even include schools and restaurants that serve the community or commercial properties such as shopping centers and professional offices.
Brand differentiation matters to every stakeholder involved in planning, developing, marketing and living in a master-planned community:
- Investors want to know that their community is desirable and therefore profitable; for many investors, this is a long-term concern.
- Builders and real estate developers want their style of community and home designs to be well-received by homebuyers and realtors, plus they need it to be profitable. While they may specialize in a specific building style and layout, they want their homes and communities to be associated with quality and success so they can continue to have opportunities for future new home developments.
- Prospective homebuyers and residents demand brand differentiation, too. They want homes that suit their lifestyle, their image, and the life they're working on building.
The sheer scale of a master-planned community means successful brand differentiation is a must have and not optional for success.
You achieve it by tapping into these two core factors:
- Emotion: Homebuyers use logic and specifications to filter new home communities out of their home search. But they use emotion to make the final decision on which home design and community they will ultimately call home. The community they select will be where they will create memories for years to come. The master-planned community must resonate with positive emotions and make your home buyer feel comforted by the thought of selecting it as their home.
- Connection: Your branding strategy must also help home buyers connect to the property. They should be able to see themselves thriving in the community based on specific attributes that are unique to it and allows the community to stand out among the competition.
3 Steps to Brand Differentiation
Brand differentiation is a process. At the same time, any strategy you develop needs to be able to adapt to unexpected changes in the housing market, in other developments in the area, and even national or international current events. That's why we approach brand differentiation with a three-step proprietary strategy that gives your team the structure to produce repeatable results while still giving them the flexibility they need to adapt and change over long-term branding strategies.
1. Brand Charrette
This first step is all about listening and learning about your Brand DNA. Our team will learn all about the community to build a solid profile about both the community and the target market. We will focus on many key areas including organizational vision and values, product, home buyer profiles, and competition. This involves:
- The developer: We explore the developer's values, past projects, the goal and reputation of their business, and other human elements.
- The land planner: We take the time to learn about the land planner and their specific placemaking visions for the community to enhance the lives of the homeowners.
- The home builder: Building rich profiles based on architectural details helps your community have a brand that's both appealing and accurate down to the last detail. Homeowners often fall in love with the small details of a home design, and building a marketing strategy around them helps refine the home buying process so the development is quickly filled with homeowners who love the community's architectural designs and finishes.
- The homebuyer: All of this boils down to our ability to identify and resonate with the target home buyer. By working with research firms and creating diligent buyer personas, we are able to understand your home buyer’s biggest problems and present your community as the solution.
We believe that it's important to start every brand differentiation strategy from the very beginning. With a solid understanding of the target audience you're building for and who you're working with, your team can better streamline the process without time-intensive reverse engineering.
2. Brand Positioning
Based on the research and development from the Brand Charrette, we can begin to formulate a series of options that are excellent representations of the community. This is where we build out the customer- and resident-facing elements that give your community its unique theme. The four core elements of a master-planned community brand are:
- Naming: The name of your community should be meaningful, timeless, appealing to your target market, and distinct from other communities in the area. It should tell a story and communicate the essence of the community.
- Brand promises: Every community has a tagline that fleshes out the name and purpose of the community. Choosing the right brand promises isn't just about choosing the right wording; it's about choosing the right community characteristics to emphasize.
- Personality: Just like the community's brand promises, the personality of the branding strategy must resonate with the target audiences.
- Positioning statement: A positioning statement is the behind-the-scenes work that clarifies your target market and approach. We'll help you find and focus on your value proposition in a way that drives the best results for you, the community, and the home owners. Investing time and effort in this gives communities the emotional and creative advantage they need to stand out and be appealing.
At Milesbrand, we think of this process like building a character or matching the community to a well-known figure. What qualities should your community be known for? What will make it memorable? In pursuit of that perfect fit, we develop multiple design and brand promise options to allow your team to react and select which one resonates best. This is a highly collaborative process between our team and your team to select the ideal brand for your master-planned community.
3. Brand Plan
In this stage, we launch the new brand for the master-planned community. The launch is one of the most critical factors for a community's success, so we take our time to adjust and refine the strategy until it's the perfect fit.
Our go-to-market plans can span up to three years, so we ensure every note and detail is built to satisfy your target market's search for the right community. The go-to-market plan outlines the budgets, tactics, and timelines to take the community and brand to market.
The launch is more than just an opening day for the community. When presale strategies are implemented correctly, it creates a buzz among prospective home buyers and realtors who love the community, drive demand, and generate even more excitement about the community long before any models, homes or amenities are completed. We make it an exciting, can't-miss campaign because there's no community out there that's the same. And with our 3 step proprietary process, your community brand will stand out among the rest.
Choose Milesbrand to Make Your Master-Planned Community Memorable
Proactively developing your brand strategy for a master-planned community is the best way to succeed and create an irreplicable community. At Milesbrand, we'll partner with you and your team From Land to Brand to make sure you develop a brand identity and for success for your master-planned community. Contact us today to learn more about our process and how we can make your next master-planned community's identity more memorable.