I just returned from the TOPS Software CAMfire conference in St. Petersburg and was mightily impressed with the entire program. I was honored to have been one of four keynote speakers as well as having been asked to teach a class along with Pilera Property Management Software owner, Ashish Patel, and to serve on a Social Media Panel with some very talented ladies: Gina Holbrook of Premier Property Management; Andrea Drennen of TOPS, and Ashley Capps of Trapp Online.
Not surprisingly, Social Media was a very large focus of the conference. For my keynote speech, I decided to address a topic most people would not readily connect with private residential communities-branding.
When you are asked to think of iconic brands, names like Nike, Apple, Starbucks and Coca Cola probably come to mind very easily. These companies all engaged in costly, strategic and sustained brand building over many decades to ensure that their company names would convey a recognizable, memorable and successful image to their customers and potential customers.
When you think of iconic community brands you might draw a blank. You might not even understand what the concept of branding has to do with the private residential community you call home. Whether you realize it or not, the community association in which you live or provide services has a brand in the marketplace, it just might not be the brand you ultimately want associated with your community.
Think of the most upscale community in your city and ask yourself how you know what you know about that community. The communities with the best brands carefully cultivate their image and thee the steps needed to protect their brand with not much being left to chance.
If you think branding is irrelevant to your community, think again. Branding (or the lack thereof) goes a long way towards attracting or repelling potential purchasers, quality renters, talented employees and honest vendors.
Want to know how your community's brand manifests itself? Start by asking what kind of reputation your community has in the market. When was the last time you asked neighbors outside your community, local realtors and others in your area how they would describe your association? Is your community seen as stodgy or hip? Flexible or rigid? Upscale or budget-friendly? Is yours the trendy upscale high-rise catering to young professionals in an urban area or is your community more the laid-back, family-friendly suburban enclave? The list of possible brand permutations is vast.
In Part II of our Branding Series, we will discuss some of the things you can do to start building your community's brand.