3 Steps to Master-Planned Community Brand Differentiation

February 28, 2021

3 Steps to Master-Planned Community Brand Differentiation

Master-planned communities are a blank canvas, and your team can plan out a unique brand differentiation strategy from start to finish. But all that freedom comes with a lot of responsibility and risk.

As real estate automates and property buyers have access to a wealth of options, your approach has to go deeper. You have to build out a brand strategy that makes an immediate connection with your target market. Families who choose to live in a master-planned community are looking for a self-contained area that perfectly — not almost perfectly — suits their needs and preferences. Focusing on lifestyle and quality is the only way forward.

According to Builder, master-planned communities will be a thriving trend through 2030 and beyond, so make sure you have the framework to capitalize on them. In this guide, we'll walk through Milesbrand’s three-step 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, swimming pools, and recreation centers. Some master-planned communities may even include schools that serve the community or commercial properties such as shopping centers and professional offices.  

Brand differentiation matters to every stakeholder involved in planning, developing, 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 developers want their style of community to be well-received by homebuyers and profitable. While they may specialize in a specific building style and layout, they want their work to be associated with quality and profit so they get hired for the next development.
  • 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 absolutely critical. You achieve it by tapping into these two core factors:

  1. Emotion: Homebuyers use logic and specifications to filter properties out of their home search. But they use emotion to make the final decision on which home design and community will be their home. The master-planned community must resonate with positive emotions and make your buyer feel comforted by the thought of selecting it as their home.
  2. Connection: Your branding strategy must also help 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.

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 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. Our team will learn all about the community to build a solid profile about both the community and the target market. 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.
  • 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 property, and building a marketing strategy around them helps refine the conversion process so the development is quickly filled with homeowners who love the property's architectural designs and finishes.
  • The homebuyer: All of this boils down to our ability to identify and resonate with the target buyer. By working with research firms and creating diligent buyer personas, we are able to understand your 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 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:

  1. Naming: The name of your community should be timeless, appealing to your target market, and distinct from other communities in the area. 
  2. 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.
  3. Personality: Just like the community's brand promises, the personality of the branding strategy must resonate with audiences.
  4. 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 residents. 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 options so we can test the bones of the total package to see which one resonates best.

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 launch is more than just an opening day for the community. When presale strategies are implemented correctly, it creates a buzz among prospective buyers who love the community, drive demand, and generate even more excitement about the community long before any models or homes are completed. We make it an exciting, can't-miss campaign because there's no community out there that's the same.

Choose Milesbrand to Make Your Master-Planned Community Memorable

Proactively developing your 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 to make sure you develop a brand strategy that adapts to fit the needs of the community and your team. Contact us today to learn more about our process and how we can make your next master-planned community's identity more memorable.

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