How to Successfully Design and Market a Master-Planned Community

July 29, 2022

How to Successfully Design and Market a Master-Planned Community

Developing exceptional master-planned communities is an extensive endeavor. From designing the neighborhood layout to establishing outstanding amenities, creating desirable and functional home designs and marketing the development to homebuyers, there are many steps required to transform a community into a sales success and a place families would love to call home.

Some home builders and developers may believe designing and bringing their master-planned community to fruition is all that’s necessary to draw buyer attention, gain leads and make sales. Unfortunately, the saying, “Build it and they will come,” isn’t always true, especially when it comes to master-planned communities.

Purchasing a new home is a significant, emotion-driven decision. Buyers need more than a quick tour inside a variety of new homes to know which master-planned community is right for their family. That’s where master-planned community branding and marketing come in! These elements help home builders and developers deliver a thoughtful narrative surrounding the community that aligns with targeted homebuyer values and aspirations.

Developing a strong branding and marketing strategy gives your master-planned community a unique identity and helps homebuyers envision their new potential lifestyle. In short, creating a successful master-planned community requires more than a great design – a compelling brand promise and go to market plan is a must-have as well.

Below, we’ll explore the key design elements of exceptional master-planned communities and the important steps you need to establish a successful branding and marketing strategy.

Key Design Elements of Successful Communities

The most successful master-planned communities combine several design elements – desirable amenities, outdoor living, cohesive themes, and ranging home options – to deliver a place that meets the criteria for today’s homebuyers. Below are the key design elements that are instrumental in establishing successful communities.

Strong Placemaking

The best master-planned communities are more than just a neighborhood, they’re unique destinations with a strong sense of place. Developing a master-planned community that feels like its own place gives homeowners a sense of belonging and comfort.

Builders and developers often create communities with strong creative placemaking by incorporating a wide variety of homes and defining lifestyle elements. Rather than leaving to work, shop, dine or play in separate places, these communities offer easy access to recreational spaces (playgrounds, parks, etc.), restaurants, stores and employment centers. Some communities also incorporate their own town centers for their homeowners to enjoy. By including these conveniences, homebuyers can enjoy a community that meets several of their needs and acts as its own “place” with a wide range of activities and opportunities.

A Clear Brand Identity and Theme

Strategic builders and developers of exceptional master-planned communities focus on creating a brand identity and brand promise from the community’s start. When it’s time to market the community, carrying a consistent theme throughout the community’s design and marketing efforts will be crucial in establishing a unified narrative and cohesive branding.

Building a community with branding in mind allows builders and developers to incorporate cohesive elements that seamlessly tie together the community’s aesthetic and core values. This can be achieved by creating entryway signage, lighting, street names, mailboxes and other community features with a similar style that goes hand in hand. Well-designed signage offers opportunities to make underlying statements about the development’s character and create valuable first impressions on prospective buyers. Park names and amenity center naming that support the brand identity of a community are also important elements developers need to consider. Not only will this help provide the community with a memorable brand identity, but it will also allow you to attract homeowners who resonate with the community’s ideals.

Desirable Lifestyle Amenities

Desirable amenities that accommodate buyers with different lifestyles are a key ingredient for success when developing master-planned communities. Life within the community always extends beyond each homeowner’s four walls, and it’s vital that the community offers available resources that create an all-inclusive lifestyle that meets their needs. Amenities within close proximity to communities should not be overlooked and promoted as well, including pedestrian friendly shopping, dining, recreational facilities and public transportation.

Health and Wellness Facilities

Today, more and more homeowners want to live healthy lives and find opportunities to focus on their wellness. A popular trend within master-planned communities is including health and wellness centers complete with trainers, workout classes, equipped gyms and more. This allows homeowners to easily enjoy exercise and health activities without looking outside their community and paying for additional resources.

Outdoor Living / Preserve Existing Environment

Along with seeking out opportunities to improve their health through dedicated facilities, homeowners are also interested in finding ways to get outside, stay active and enjoy nature. Popular master-planned communities incorporate abundant green space, parks and walking trails for homeowners interested in hiking, walking or biking. While builders and developers can find ways to add in outdoor living opportunities, some community properties come with existing nature amenities, such as lakes, rivers, ponds, trails and more. Retaining and even enhancing these natural features creates a more sustainable space and provides a characterizing staple of the development.

Social Activities

Homeowners want more than a place to live, they desire a home that allows them to find fulfillment both physically and emotionally. Homebuyers want to find a community where they connect with the place they live and the people around them. Landscaping design can’t naturally bring community members together, but builders can design features that facilitate cohesion. That’s why many master-planned communities create ways to foster a sense of community by providing shared spaces and opportunities for engagement. It’s common for master-planned communities to host neighborhood events at gathering areas, as well as places where families can interact with others.

Diverse Home Styles

Although many master-planned communities previously targeted family-oriented buyers, today’s developments are catered toward a much larger audience. To attract a wider range of prospective buyers, many popular master-planned communities include a variety of home designs to accommodate homeowners from all walks of life and stages of life. Typically, master-planned community homes deliver a broad array of sizes, styles, price points, etc.

Branding and Marketing Your Master-Planned Community

After designing and building the perfect master-planned community, the job is not truly complete. After the development portion is finished, it’s time to place full focus on branding and marketing the community. Today’s market is highly competitive, and without great branding and marketing strategies, your community won’t successfully attract homebuyers. Implementing tactical strategies will help you reach the right target audience whose needs and desires best fit the community’s lifestyle opportunity.

Starting by creating a compelling brand defines your community for greater brand awareness and allows you to share messages filled with core values that align with your buyers. Let’s take a look at the key steps to master-planned community branding success!

Give Your Development a Unique Identity

Branding is all about giving your community a unique, recognizable character and allowing your master-planned community to stand out above the competition. This cultivated identity should ultimately tie all of the community elements together to create an established look and feel, as well as a succinct brand promise. Similar to a resort that places cohesive branding elements at every turn (signage, décor, etc.), strong master-planned communities exude a distinct style and design that produces a sense of familiarity. No matter where homeowners are within the community, elements of your brand should always be easy to find.

In addition to a unified look, your branding should be utilized to define the community. What values do the community’s ideal homeowners possess? What drives community residents? What is most important within the community and to its homeowners? What does the community uniquely offer its homeowners, unlike any other development? What lifestyle does the community promise to provide to homeowners? Answering these questions brings you that much closer to branding your community and helping buyers understand how they align with the community values.

Understand Your Audience

Creating a great brand is all about understanding your audience. Depending on your target audience’s needs and expectations, you may want to shift the way you position your community. The more it aligns with homebuyer needs, the stronger its sales appeal.

Determining the most advantageous way to describe the community should begin with keyword research. This will help you discern the specific terms your targeted homebuyers are using to search online for their ideal communities. Common keywords could include family-friendly, communities near large cities, communities in certain school districts, communities with wellness centers, etc. Using these keywords or phrases, home builders and developers can develop a compelling brand story focused on the specific benefits that will best resonate with their audience and drive them to purchase new homes within the community.

Conducting Market Research

Once you’ve gained a stronger understanding of who your audience is, it’s important to continue digging into the market and conducting further research. Thorough market research will help you form a powerful foundation and provide your community with a highly competitive edge.

What is the current state of the market? What strategies work best for competing master-planned communities in your market? What strategies fail to deliver strong results? What are popular industry trends buyers expect? Without learning the answers to these questions, you risk implementing strategies blindly and losing opportunities to maximize the value of your efforts. Understanding the market, trends, competitors and targeted buyers will ultimately allow you to elevate your marketing strategies and increase your community’s success.

Tell a Compelling Story

A key aspect of great branding and marketing is artful storytelling. When you think of the lifestyle opportunity the community offers, what would a typical homeowner’s life look like? What sets this opportunity from the life they could have in another community? Forming a meaningful story is about considering the homebuyer’s experience and showing them how the community offers exactly what they’re looking for in their ideal community.

Although many home builders and developers make the mistake of speaking at their target audience instead of with them. Ideally, marketing should be made up of shared interactions and conversations with your audience. Rather than simply listing the benefits of your homes and amenities, homebuyers want you to paint a picture and share your community’s story. The best practice is to craft a story that both helps homebuyers gain insight into the community, builds relationships and helps buyers imagine themselves as part of the community narrative. The goal of this storytelling shouldn’t only be to sell homes but to create an image of a stellar community where homeowners can live, grow and thrive.

Deliver an Exceptional Master-Planned Community From Design to Marketing

Building an outstanding community isn’t enough to achieve success, home builders and developers also need compelling branding and effective marketing strategies to attract buyer attention. A great master-planned community seamlessly combines exceptional design with intuitive marketing strategies.

Learn more about how to set your master-planned community up for success from design to marketing strategies. Talk to our team today on how we can create your brand story, From Land to Brand.

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