Why is brand so important to Build to RentFebruary 2019
Why is Brand so important to BTR....or put another way...why are architects embracing brand when what they do is design buildings?
Ultimately, we can’t design the building without a thorough understanding of the business strategy that the building is supporting. This is best defined by its Brand.Brand in most peoples’ minds means a fancy logo. But if you consider it for a moment, you realise that logo conjures up a mental picture of what the product is, who it is created for, its quality, the service behind it and, ultimately, the price you will have to pay for it; all gleaned from that fancy logo. So clearly, from the business operator’s perspective, the brand associated with the logo embraces the entire business philosophy and strategy of the company.
Put this into the Build to Rent context and you can quickly see how brand defines the target audience, the style of the building, the level of services, the provision of amenity and even the price point; all crucial factors in good design. We call this # BrandBeforeBuilding.
Many of the businesses that we are working with do not come from a consumer product background. They are typically from a real estate development, property investment or housebuilding background. Brand, in so far as it applies to their product, has not previously been a mainstay of their businesses. You might think this only has relevance to the long-term operator/investor. Surely a developer looking to exit on completion or even at planning doesn’t need to be bothered by brand. Well, they do if they want to reach the widest buyer market and get the best price. We are working now on schemes where the developer will exit on planning, but we are integrating what you might call a white-labelled, loose brand into the scheme to allow the future operator to shoe-horn in their own brand.
Brand in BTR is very new with only a few operators having a completed model. Even those internationals with long-established brands need to put it into a UK context. When we work for an established US multifamily operator, for instance, we must first get a thorough understanding of their existing brand values. We then need to discuss how these might be adapted for the UK marketplace and then the specific building in question. A true brand integrates all parts of the provider’s business plan and BTR offer. It acts as a differentiator between providers and helps the consumer navigate and select between them. A good customer experience builds trust and loyalty and gives more brand buy-in. As a brand develops, it generates engagement with its customers, making them feel comfortable with its specific lifestyle offering.
In BTR, this will deliver lower voids by increasing renewals, extending the length of leases and increasing the number of customer referrals to like-minded buddies. Done well, it will maximise net operating income and deliver business success. This builds a reputation and enhances customer experience. We have explained this BTR Brand Value Loop in a recent infographic. Take a look.