What Do Award-Winning Master-Planned Communities Have in Common?

July 20, 2023

What Do Award-Winning Master-Planned Communities Have in Common?

For many, buying and owning a home continues to be a cornerstone of the American dream. This is not only a financial venture for many but also an emotional one. This goal is made possible after years of hard work, resilience and the persistent pursuit of a dream. We cannot overstate the significance of discovering and buying a new home. As such, master-planned community marketers must recognize an important truth — you're fulfilling someone’s childhood dreams and aspirations and delivering their own personal refuge. This is a place they will call "home," where they will raise their children, build lasting friendships and create valuable family memories to last a lifetime. 

According to the National Association Of Realtors, about 90% of homeowners believe owning a home brings them closer to their American dream.

So, what are marketers to do when trying to build not just any master-planned community brand but an award-winning and revenue-generating one that consistently exceeds expectations and increases absorption? We’re glad you asked! Let’s explore the significance of marketing a master-planned community and the strategies used to exceed homebuyer expectations and establish compelling award-worthy communities.

What Keeps Marketers Awake at Night

This gives many marketing professionals sleepless nights — How does one create a differentiated brand that lives up to the scale of this purchase and its emotional impact? It is no easy feat to persuade homebuyers to purchase a home for their family within your master-planned community, where they will live for years when other choices are available.

Choosing a new home is a highly emotion-driven purchase for many homebuyers. Ultimately, it’s up to master-planned community marketers to provide a compelling case to convince prospective homebuyers that this is the best place to settle down. And also convince realtors that their clients will thrive in a specific master-planned community and enjoy their desired lifestyle.

How does a marketer set themselves apart from their competition? How does a marketer develop brands to meet the customer’s needs? How does a marketer show homebuyers that this master-planned community is truly a place where they can feel at home?

Like the popular 70s TV ad that convinced Americans to perceive buying a home as buying their small piece of America, master-planned community marketing must match the emotional weight of such a purchase.


Master-Planned Community Expectations

To capture a prospect’s vision of their dream, you must look at your master-planned community in the eyes of your prospective customer and put yourself in their shoes.

For one, they are making a significant investment in their future. Your marketing must make them feel this is their best investment. They are also making a substantial emotional commitment to the community. That means marketing efforts must help them visualize a new life where they can experience the excitement for new possibilities, a strong sense of belonging and comfort. All of this, of course, is easier said than done.

Matching your customer's expectations requires tried and tested techniques that narrow down and appeal to the very heart of your target audience. This is what award-winning master-planned communities do so well:

  • Memorable Branding
  • Creative Marketing of Amenities
  • Impactful Storytelling
  • Original Photography
  • Omnichannel Marketing
1. Memorable Branding 

Memorable branding is going half the distance in your journey of remarkable master-planned community marketing.

What is the first thing that comes to mind whenever your client or prospective homebuyer hears the name of your community? If a master-planned community does not take its time to define its brand, the market will determine the brand on its behalf.

The first step in branding is defining your communities’ most compelling differentiators. What sets your master-planned community apart from hundreds of competitors? Whatever it may be, it’s essential to identify, as it’s your primary selling point. Include unique differentiators in your branding to characterize the master-planned community in a sentimental way that draws in homebuyers.

Your brand should be memorable from the community name to the tagline, visual elements, pre-construction marketing efforts, website copy, digital advertising and more. When done effectively, community members take on the brand’s personality, further improving its image and connectivity.

The Farm

The Farm had a wholesome family legacy that we used to build an unforgettable branding strategy. Built on land cared for by several generations of family members, our team saw a unique opportunity to develop community branding that offers a sense of comfort and warmth to new families making their homes on the land.

We positioned the community around the “Live Abundantly” theme to tie together the three family generations raised on the beloved property with the land’s brand-new homes for 500 future families. The Farm would be to new homeowners what it was for its first family – the perfect place to form precious memories and enduring traditions for years.

We utilized original photography and charming creative design to create a compelling brand that seamlessly blended former family memories made on the land with the growing lifestyles of new families.

2. Creative Marketing of Amenities

Great marketing does not just list amenities — it goes much further. Going the extra mile is where customer satisfaction abounds, and this is how far we are willing to go in the art of amenity marketing.

Remember, a home is the most important purchase people ever make. Whatever the price point, they expect to feel that touch of luxury and perceive that they are getting the most value and the best lifestyle for their money.

It’s not enough to tell homebuyers the available amenities; you must paint a picture of how these features fit into their lives in this community. The community’s miles of walking trails allow residents a place to soak up the fresh air with leisurely strolls. Sports courts provide an active, healthy way for homeowners to play fun games with their neighborhood friends. The community clubhouse isn’t just a building; it’s a neighborhood hub for connecting and socializing with new friends.

Creative marketing and programming of amenities allow you to position your master-planned community uniquely. Highlighting available amenities and why they improve residents' lives is vital.


For Southshore, we faced the challenge of turning a low-visibility community within the number one school district in the state into a destination location. This community is close to a large reservoir, unique for Colorado and something we saw as an immediate key differentiator. We recognized an opportunity to market the reservoir as a significant community amenity by highlighting the tagline “Life at the Lake.” Due to this creative marketing of the community’s largest amenity, Southshore became a community where homeowners turned every day into a vacation by enjoying their very own lake from the comfort of home.

3. Impactful Storytelling

One of the most overlooked aspects of creating an emotional connection with a prospect is storytelling. This is the practice of blending the distinct details of your master-planned community with an overarching narrative that evokes an emotional response from homebuyers.

Nothing pulls at the heartstrings of a prospective customer and relates to them at a spiritual level, like telling a well-crafted story. Research also proves that storytelling improves brand recall and creates meaningful connections.

Designed to deliver alluring visions of what life could be, master-planned community storytelling transforms the way homebuyers view communities. Suddenly it’s no longer simply a community; it’s a desirable destination that offers a powerful sense of belonging and a sought-after lifestyle.

Our master-planned community storytelling creates a tale that begins with the dreams and expectations of your customer and slowly brings the story to life through everything your community offers. Sharing your community’s compelling differentiators and unique appeal is easy when you form a captivating brand story that resonates with your homebuyers.

Although logic may direct homebuyer standards during their home search, the final decision is made with emotion. The community they choose is where they feel most comforted and connected to the property – these sentiments can be driven with great storytelling!

Crystal Valley

When working with Crystal Valley, we branded this community the "Nature of Happiness." We told a story of the benefits of living with nature by focusing on the quantifiable evidence of how nature helps people become better versions of themselves, fights depression, and encourages more kind and tolerant interactions. This powerful story immediately attracted potential buyers.

4. Original Photography

An original picture is worth a thousand words; a fake one is worth none.  Original photography builds trust with your target audience by showing the actual community and amenities versus using stock images that are never an accurate representation. 

In master-planned community marketing, most prospective home buyers are bombarded by advertising laced with overused, unimaginative stock photography. Customers crave original photography, which is one thing that award-winning master-planned communities do incredibly well. Offering this sets you apart from other planned communities and truly captures the lifestyle envisioned.

Along with branding and storytelling, original photography goes a long way in helping homebuyers imagine themselves living in a community and feeling that they will belong.


Located directly on the High Line Canal, Solstice is a one-of-a-kind community with an incredible location. This community is close to a large reservoir, unique for Colorado and something we saw as an immediate key differentiator. When creating a brand for Solstice, the term "Home Sweet High Line" became our rallying cry, a simple definition synonymous with this breathtaking Colorado community.

From direct access to trails and parks to nearby bodies of water and all the recreational activities they provide, our marketing efforts revolved around the community’s unfettered access to remarkable natural amenities and the joy of spending time in the great outdoors. Our branding strategy included gorgeous four-season photography illustrating the beauty of a life surrounded by nature and remarkable Colorado scenery.

5. Omnichannel Marketing

By now, most marketing departments are familiar with multichannel marketing and its role in master-planned community marketing.

However, many master-planned community marketers are seeing the benefits of examining this strategy and considering alternatives for success. A far more effective campaign is quickly replacing it. Omnichannel marketing goes the extra mile to bring all your marketing goals and perceived intentions under one roof and deliver a consistent message to prospective homebuyers across all channels of interaction. Rather than focusing on promoting individual products and services, this tactic places the customer experience at the heart of all marketing efforts.

Prioritizing customer success and the homebuyer’s journey has never been more critical for real estate marketing, and omnichannel marketing is the best way to keep your homebuyers engaged with your master-planned community. Rather than fire off static, unrelated messages to homebuyers across multiple channels (as multichannel campaigns do), omnichannel campaigns follow the homebuyer through their homebuying journey to tell a seamless story. This brand consistency ultimately leads to greater homebuyer trust and increased lead conversions.

Milesbrand recently won several Nationals for our award-winning marketing for the master-planned community Tesoro Viejo. A nationally acclaimed community by McCaffrey Homes, Tesoro Viejo sets a high bar for master-planned communities (MPCs) nationwide with its innovative design and exceptional amenities. Milesbrand launched an omnichannel marketing campaign, combining both digital and traditional methods to fortify the community's brand promise, "Raise Your Expectations." Our primary lead generation approach was a multifaceted digital campaign, employing a full range of modern home builder marketing trends to reach potential homeowners effectively. This included streaming video and television ads, digital radio broadcasts on platforms like Pandora and other streaming services, pay-per-click initiatives, email marketing, and display and social media promotions. 

The Key Takeaway

Creating an award-winning master-planned community requires proactive strategic planning considering all obstacles to success. Whether with brand differentiation and establishment or homebuyer perception and conversion, effective and reliable master-planned community marketing solves many problems that real estate developers and home builders face.

The proof is in the pudding – or the trophy cabinet. The award-winning team at Milesbrand has won 116 Gold National awards over the years and more than 500 silver awards. For us, what's even more significant is that these accolades function as a gauge. A method to evaluate our efforts in comparison to the top performers annually. These award ceremonies push us to uphold the creative and professional principles that have guided us for years. And for our customers, it signifies that they're receiving the finest real estate marketing and community development available in the nation.

Here at Milesbrand, we have spent the last few decades solving these marketing dilemmas. Contact us today so we can begin transforming your land into brand.

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