Authentic branding in multifamily can truly create a difference in your resident retention and loyalty. Like most things in life, the proof is in the pudding. That means: the goals you set, the relationships you build, and the people that you bring in as part of your staff are actually what makes residents’ dreams come true. Delivering on promises made is authenticity.
Marketing (and research and discovery) gets you to a certain point in preparing for success, but it can only take you so far. How does authentic branding in multifamily come about?
1. BE REALISTIC
Create attainable goals for your brand. Make a mission you actually believe in—not just one that sounds good. And whatever apartments or lifestyle you’re “selling”, make sure you’d buy into it, too. When you convince yourself first of the value of your community, you’re better positioned to speak to those exact values to someone who needs to hear it.
Scripted or not, reality TV is a booming business. Because people want reality—or at least some form of it. A voice, a personality, a brand they can relate to (or see something of themselves in) is ideal. In fact, reality and authenticity is expected. The FleishmanHillard 2021 Authenticity Gap study showed a significant gap between what consumers expect of companies and what they provided: 95% of the industries studied aren’t meeting expectations when it comes to providing customers better value. And when residents find something out of alignment, it’s more noticeable. Be honest. Be realistic. Be transparent. Follow through.
2. FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS
It can be an arduous journey to get to this point in your brand building. You’ve worked hard on creating long-term goals, an aligned mission, vision, and values, and messaging and visuals that work hand-in-hand. What’s next? People over profits. Community over competition. Be genuine with the way you start and maintain relationships with your residents—or really anyone who comes in contact with your brand. (More info on good apartment branding here.)
3. GO LONG
Have you ever met someone who knew exactly what they wanted to do since they were young, and then did it—and didn’t let anything stop them? Be like that, but in brand form. Taking a long hard look at your brand goals (1, 5, 10 years out) is helpful to pinpoint what your priorities are and where you want to go. Your community shouldn’t be treated as here today, gone tomorrow. Put down some roots and invest in those around you. By building relationships over time, you have a better shot at creating a full 360-degree brand that looks consistently authentic from all angles.
4. LEAD NURTURING
People like to be wooed and pursued (within reason). The market is saturated with options and everywhere they turn, there’s an ad that feels tailored to them. The internet is full of research and search engine results, and finding authentic branding in multifamily will stand out and offer transparency and grab attention. And once you have that attention, nurture, nurture, nurture. Figure out your best “prospect” journey, and stick with it. (Relationship building, remember?)
5. HIRE “BRAND AMBASSADOR” EMPLOYEES
You have to hire the right people. Get current staff aligned with your brand message (post it, say it, bring it up in meetings). Create trainings around how to treat residents and prospects—your bread and butter. Ensure that every opportunity is taken to deliver fantastic customer service, along with honesty and transparency in interactions. Keep your reputation nice and clean. Encourage your staff to play the long game, and get to know the people they’re talking to on the phone, via email, or in person. Remembering details adds the authenticity of a human touch to your apartment brand.
6. AVOID SALES-SPEAK
You can close sales without being “salesy.” Instead, seek to provide value through:
- Helpfulness – “Here’s our most popular floor plan. Folks love the open concept kitchen and living space. But we do only have a few of these left.”
- Encouragement – “Moving can be so stressful! Let me know if there’s anything I can help with.”
- Patience – “Whenever you’re ready to talk move-in dates, let me know—I’m available via phone or email.”
- Kindness – “Is this your first apartment? How exciting!”
- Gentle reminders – “Just wanted to quickly remind you that our leasing special is over at the end of the week. I’d be happy to give you another tour. Let me know how I can help!”
- Tours are key for excellent first impressions.
Friendliness and genuine interest from staff shift your apartment brand into Authentic Mode. That’s the space where sales happen and leases get signed.
Authenticity in Branding
That certainly covers the customer service portion of your brand, which is essentially your messaging proven true. Branding with consistency is key to authenticity, because it makes something expected, predictable, and worthy of your residents’ trust.
Branding is the starting point of those promises, those relationships and the solutions you offer. When you begin with knowing your audience, you can tailor your brand voice and tone to reach the audience you want to build said relationship with. When you create messaging that’s helpful, you can start solving problems. When you create imagery, fonts, colors that are a visual representation of your brand, your staff can extend that “brand” to every interaction your resident has with your community. Authentic branding for multifamily starts from the very beginning, when they first see your sign or contact you, all the way through to their maintenance request as a resident.