Best Practices for Launching and Building a Commercial Real Estate Brand

Sep 19, 2016 Tina Cassidy

When commercial real estate developers are ready to make their project public, the first step is often naming it, and unveiling their vision through a website, logo and maybe even a tagline.

But because it can be years before construction is complete, it’s essential to begin immediately to bring that brand to life to generate buzz for attracting tenants, showing that a project is real, drowning out the competition, or calming/exciting the community about what’s to come.

Of course, there are many ways a brand comes alive once a project is complete and tenants move in. The brand can be reflected in the architecture, interior design, signage, or wayfinding. It can be reflected in the actions of employees, such as community giving or thought leadership. And it can happen through events.

But well before any shovel hits the ground, building the brand is as much of an effort as building an office tower: You start from the ground up.

First, what’s the story behind the logo or name? There was a reason why you chose it. Does it reference history? Is it about the future? If it’s neither -- simply an address, for example -- you need to create a story around it, imbue it with a vibe or essence.

That storytelling needs to be wholly connected to the name and logo -- and even the functionality of the website. Here are the best practices for launching and building a commercial real estate brand:

  1. Messaging. Basic messaging will include all the facts and figures needed for an old fashioned brochure. But today, that is not enough. What’s the value of the property or the site? What’s the thing that will make the tenant feel connected or fall in love with the property? This is where storytelling comes in.
  2. Social media. That story needs a place live. For commercial real estate, different social channels each have their own value depending on your target audience. Facebook is great for the community; Twitter for general brand-building; Instagram for younger decision makers or hip prospects; and LinkedIn remains a serious B2B tool. Snapchat is growing in importance and works really well for commercial brands. 
  3. Content. Content is the story itself, appearing in different forms, whether it’s a video, a blog, a byline, a speech, or everything that is being pushed through your social channels, from photos to renderings, to community presentations. Consider paid content opportunities when you want to highly target your message. 
  4. Media relations. You’ll need it for the brand launch and then for ongoing buzz-building. Doing this well will require endless creativity (this is a marathon!) and great relationships with the press.
  5. Ongoing community relations. Of course, you don’t want negative press, so head it off by listening closely and keeping the neighborhood informed. This process should not end when you have your approvals. 
  6. Events. Typical commercial real estate events center on three things: Groundbreaking ceremonies, topping-offs, and ribbon cuttings, all of which are important milestones. But there are many other event possibilities in between that can help bring the brand to life, from community service projects to virtual reality ‘tours’ of the project.
  7. Speaking opportunities. Developers are the most optimistic people I know. They’re often the best brand ambassadors out there. More people need to hear them speak -- not just at the beginning or end of a project, but at touch points in between. 
  8. Interim site activation. Are you tired of the chain-link fence and typical construction scrim? So are we. There are so many ways to be creative and build the brand on site before and during construction. Whether it’s a branded pop-up shop, light or art installation, or even an event, try to think outside the box.

The goal with all of this brand building is to accelerate the sales process and bring greater value to the project overall. It’s a good investment.

Topics: Commercial Real Estate, Real Estate
Tina Cassidy

Tina is executive vice president and chief content officer at InkHouse. She is a former journalist, the author of three books, and mom of three boys and a dog named Dusty.

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