How to Successfully Design and Market a Master-Planned Community

September 14, 2023

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 and Realtors, many steps are required to transform a community into a sales success and a place families will love to call home.

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

Purchasing a new home is a significant, emotion-driven decision. Buyers need more than a quick tour inside various new homes to know which master-planned community is right for their family. That’s where master-planned community branding and marketing come in! The brand story helps home builders and developers deliver a thoughtful narrative surrounding the lifestyle that can be enjoyed in the community that aligns with the target homebuyer values and aspirations.

Developing a strong branding and marketing strategy gives your master-planned community a unique identity and helps homebuyers envision their future there. In short, creating a thriving master-planned community requires more than a great design – a compelling brand promise and go-to-market plan are also must-haves. Below, we’ll explore the critical design elements of exceptional master-planned communities and the essential steps you need to establish a successful branding and marketing strategy.

Key Design Elements of Successful Communities

The most successful master-planned communities combine design facets – 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 design elements that are instrumental in establishing successful communities.

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 how your community is positioned. The more it aligns with homebuyer needs, the stronger its 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 use to search online for their ideal communities. Common keywords could include family-friendly, communities near large cities, communities in specific school districts, communities with wellness centers, etc. Using these keywords or phrases, home builders and developers develop a compelling brand story focused on the particular 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 better understanding of who your audience is, continue digging into the market and conducting further research. Thorough market research forms a powerful foundation and provides 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 tactics 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 homebuyers ultimately elevates your marketing strategies and increases your community's success.

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 fosters connectivity gives homeowners a sense of belonging and comfort.

Home builders and real estate developers often create communities with strong creative placemaking by incorporating  various home designs 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 town centers for homeowners to enjoy. By including these conveniences, homebuyers enjoy a mixed-use community that meets more than just their housing needs.

A Clear Brand Identity and Theme

Strategic builders and developers of exceptional master-planned communities focus on creating a differentiated brand identity and brand promise from the community’s start. When it’s time to market the community, carrying a consistent theme throughout its 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 features that seamlessly tie together the community’s aesthetic and core values. This is 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 for prospective homebuyers. 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 homebuyers with different lifestyles are key ingredients for success when developing master-planned communities. Life within the community continuously extends beyond each homeowner’s four walls, and the community must offer available resources that create an all-inclusive lifestyle that meets their needs. Amenities within close proximity to communities should be promoted, 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 enjoy exercise and health activities without looking outside their community and paying for additional resources.

Outdoor Living / Preserve Existing Environment

Along with seeking 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 find ways to add outdoor living opportunities, some community properties come with existing natural 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 physical and emotional fulfillment. Homebuyers want a community where they connect with the place they live and the people around them. 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 and places where families interact with one another. Landscaping design can’t naturally unite community members, but builders can design features that facilitate cohesion.

Diverse Home Styles

Although many master-planned communities previously targeted family-oriented homebuyers, today’s developments cater to a much larger audience. To attract a wider range of prospective homebuyers, 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

While design plans for the perfect master-planned community are underway and before development starts, 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.

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 look at the key steps to master-planned community branding success!

Give Your Development a Unique Identity

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

In addition to a unified look, branding defines 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 closer to branding your community and helping buyers understand how they align with the community’s values.

Tell a Compelling Story

A key aspect of great branding and marketing is artful storytelling. Forming a meaningful story is about considering the homebuyer's experience and showing how the community offers precisely what they want in their ideal neighborhood. When you think of the community's lifestyle opportunity, what would a typical homeowner's life look like? What sets this opportunity from the life they could have in another community? Ideally, marketing should comprise shared interactions and conversations with your audience. However, many home builders and developers make the mistake of speaking at their target audience instead of with or to them. 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 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 and 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 succeed; 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 about how we can create your brand story, From Land to Brand.

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