Is the multifamily industry due for a brand revolution?

By Christina Simms

With 35% of 122.3 million households as renters, multifamily property owners need to rethink how they market and serve their residents. In a recent Forbes article titled “Three ways to Make Brand Matter in Multifamily,” there appears to be a brand revolution on the horizon, according to Funnel Leasing CEO Tyler Christiansen.

I think we are already there.

I started researching multifamily branding and how the brand is communicated when I recently met with a client considering taking his multifamily brand in a particular direction. We called it a Marriott model.  Like Marriott, you will know you are in a Marriott not only by the marquee out front, but it will have a look and feel associated with the brand type no matter the market.  However, for Marriott, the one constant is the customer experience.  Current and future guests know what to expect from the look and feel of the brand. But brand loyalty doesn’t end on appearances; you must have an organizational culture to support your messaging and characteristics, and your clients must relate to your brand. 

Multifamily branding shouldn’t stop at building an apartment community. Multifamily needs to find more ways to resonate and engage with their residents emotionally in a positive way.

Time for Multifamily to Think About Brand Affinity

Brand affinity is when consumers believe a particular brand shares common values.  These shared values help build a relationship that tends to retain loyal customers for longer.

Imagine if you have a portfolio of properties in multiple markets.  With brand affinity in place, your message is consistent and efficient in any market. Residents who move to another market will look for a brand they know and can relate to, and if that is your brand, they will seek it out first.

When a resident feels an affinity to a brand, the emotional aspect is more likely to play a part in the decision. They are engaged in your brand. The higher the level of engagement, the more they talk about and propel your brand name.  Think about any product you have loyalty to; take that loyalty and add an emotional element – you will tell everyone about your experience.

Residents are more likely to stay in your community if they feel their needs are understood and realistic expectations are met. This includes listening to resident feedback, proactively communicating with them, and possibly implementing changes. When that relationship is nurtured, your residents become your biggest brand ambassadors.

Brand Affinity and Becoming More Customer-Centric

With an increase in focus on resident satisfaction, multifamily property owners and/or managers are starting to realize that they need to invest time and resources into defining their brand personality, cultivating their culture, and thinking about how they communicate and interact with residents. It starts with knowing who you are, becoming more proactive with your communication style, and considering an omnichannel approach to outreach efforts.

What is Brand Personality?

Your brand personality is a set of human characteristics that consumers attribute to a brand. Just like we attribute a buyer persona to prospective residents to help us relate and reach out to the right audience, having a brand personality helps us communicate who we are as an organization to our residents and prospective residents to help them feel more connected to the personality of your brand. Your brand personality reflects your culture and must be present in every decision and interaction.

There are typically five types of brand personality:

  • sincerity
  • ruggedness
  • excitement
  • competence
  • sophistication

It is essential to define your brand personality, so you know how to resonate with, attract and retain the right resident. It is also important to note that brand personality should not be confused with your logo or any imagery used to communicate your brand name and its value. Usually, the latter is created after the former is decided.

How to Increase Brand Affinity in Multifamily

  1. Find your personality; who is your community?
  2. Know your residents, who they are, where they work, and their passions in life.
  3. Stay connected; events, town halls, and omnichannel communication will help you and your residents from feeling alienated or out of touch.
  4. Listen to your customers; listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Be sure you have opportunities for residents to reach out and work with you.
  5. Develop or illustrate your Unique Selling Point; what makes you different from other communities? What are your values? Be sure to let potential residents know.
  6. Be proactive in your communications with your residents.
  7. Let your residents tell their stories within your community. Tell your community’s story.

Finally, it is time for properties and owners to start thinking about having a brand ambassador, ensuring that communities have set up frameworks for brand messaging, have established values and determined cultures, and are executing programs that enhance their resident experience.

Christina Simms is a Marketing Manager at Sales Inc., a leading leasing and marketing company helping multifamily property owners lease their properties faster.