AIM Report: Promote it, Cultivate it, Live it: Your Brand Matters

The need for brand awareness authentically exists, as a panel discussed at the recent AIM 2016 Conference session Experiencing the Brand…Everywhere: Making 100% Integration a Reality to Boost the User Experience.
(From left to right) Kari Warren, Anyone Home; Beth Tuttle, Lennar; Kate Irving, Northwood Ravin; and Kelley Shannon, Bozzuto.

(From left to right) Kari Warren, Anyone Home; Beth Tuttle, Lennar; Kate Irving, Northwood Ravin; and Shannon Kelley, Bozzuto.

Boiled down to its simplest component, your brand is your identity. It’s your reputation. It’s who you are, and the more you can spread the brand with a positive connotation, the more successful your company will become.

For instance, people around the world often refer to any type soda as a “Coke,” and any flying disc as a “Frisbee.” The brand has been instilled.

Granted, apartment residents aren’t soon going to refer to any apartment community as a “Lennar” or a “Camden.” But the need for brand awareness authentically exists, as a panel discussed at the recent AIM 2016 Conference session Experiencing the Brand…Everywhere: Making 100% Integration a Reality to Boost the User Experience.

It’s not as easy as putting a clever name out there and letting it ride. Kelley Shannon, vice president of marketing at The Bozzuto Group, provided a bevy of insight. While many owner/operators research the history and the backstory of a particular neighborhood before naming a community, that’s not enough.

“Your entire team must know the backstory to remain consistent,” Shannon said. “Make sure they are laser-focused on the brand.”

Bozzuto uses 16 different operational efficiencies to integrate new initiatives.

Kate Irving, digital communications director for Northwood Ravin, indicated that consistency is the key in promoting and maintaining the brand, particularly when resident bases often can turn over anywhere from every six to 18 months.

“If you’re posting five times a week, continue doing it,” Iriving said. “Remain consistent.”

Another of Irving’s key takeaways is not to be so consumed in your own brand that you fail to realize what’s happening around you.

“It’s knowing your brand, but also knowing what your comps do well,” she said. “It’s figuring out ‘what do we do better?’ and exploiting that.”

The brand, however, is made up of more than just the marketing department and advertising—it’s also a product of the company’s culture and on-site associates who interact with residents every day. Beth Tuttle, national vice president of marketing Lennar Multifamily Communities, firmly believes in hiring onsite associates who will be ambassadors for the brand. Because of how important they are to the brand, she warns against making too snappy of a judgment even if a newcomer appears to be perfect.

“We like to really know a person before they come to work with us, and we’ve found that to be really successful,” Tuttle said. “An interview is like a first date and anyone can be awesome on a first date. You do your hair, suck in your gut and give a good impression.”

Tuttle said that Lennar hires for “attitude more than aptitude” and, like Bozzuto, has a lengthy indoctrination/orientation/cultural immersion process.

“Where you can really stand out is with your people, so don’t hire out of desperation,” Tuttle said. “This allows you to be as awesome onsite as you are online.”

Paul Willis is a content specialist at LinnellTaylor Marketing.