In 2020, the property market proved remarkably resilient to the economic effects of the coronavirus. Helped in large part by the stamp duty holiday, house prices rose to a six-year high by the end of the year – up 7.3%.
But that holiday is ending in March and, impacted by COVID-19, the economy is set to struggle in 2021. So, the time for building and positioning a brand that sells you at your best and puts you ahead of the competition?
That’s right now.
From a digital branding perspective, the lesson from the pandemic, as our blog points out here, is that online branding and the overall online user experience has never been more important.
This is especially true for those aiming at the higher end of the property market, where house buyers expect a digital experience to match the impressive style of property they’re looking for. A sub-par website and social feed – key tools in the research phase for most buyers – can do serious damage and see potential buyers moving home with the competition.
So, how do you position your brand so that it attracts more people, instills more trust and generates more sales?
- Start at the beginning
Yes, this is a blog about property marketing, but this advice applies to any brand. Whether you’re just starting out or are considering a rebrand, you must start at the beginning.
Branding isn’t just about creating a new colour palette, logo, website or set of brand guidelines.These things are important, but they come later. What matters first is establishing a brand strategy that goes across the whole business.
This means understanding where you sit in the market, your strengths and weaknesses – and those of your competitors. It means working out who you are, who your audience is, how you want to reflect yourself to that audience, and how you can do it in a way that differentiates you from your competition.
A successful brand sorts its strategy first. Tactics – websites, social media, advertising, etc – always come second.
To do this, you need to get the business’ decision makers to agree on your brand strategy. This includes stakeholders from marketing, sales and customer services – as all three will have crucial insights into your target audiences and how you should best present your brand to them.
So, before you think about what brand colours to pick and advertising channels to go down, get your planning in place first – from defining your mission statement to positioning your brand against your competitors. This takes time but will ensure your subsequent marketing – design, copy, advertising targeting etc. – will be much more successful.
- Build trust
Buying a house is the most important – and therefore most considered – purchase most of us will make (Bitcoin portfolios aside) – particularly with Covid set to dominate economic proceedings for some time to come. Which means as a housebuilder, one of your key aims in 2021 should be to focus on trust.
This is something that goes beyond aesthetics. It starts with your values and goes right through the business – particularly with aftercare. Scour TrustPilot reviews of property brands and you’ll see the majority of negative ones are from buyers who have been let down after having moved in. And in an online world where reading reviews is a big step in a buyer’s research phase, this is particularly damaging.
So, you can’t just say you’re trustworthy, you have to show it – from getting in touch with prospects quickly (and not leaving them hanging) to providing the kind of aftercare that wins awards.
Part of building trust, though, is to do with how you present yourself. And that’s where strong creative – design and copywriting – comes in.
We’re going all tough-love here, so apologies in advance. But in 2021, there’s simply no excuse for property builders – especially those pitching at the higher end of the market – to have websites that look like digital hangovers from 2007.
For most people, especially younger audiences or richer clients looking to buy abroad, the first step to buying a home is online research. According to this 2018 report, a staggering 99% of Millennials used online search as part of their home-buying process. And at 90%, the figure wasn’t much lower for those of the Boomer generation, either.
Seems that no matter how old we are, the internet is the most-used tool in helping us buy our homes – whether that’s on mobile (58% of Millennials found their home on their phone) or desktop.
This means your digital assets – website, social, email – are like digital shop windows to tempt customers in. And if your window display is looking tired, people aren’t going to trust you with the biggest purchase of their lives.
You can’t just say you’re trustworthy, you have to show it. This is what good property branding achieves.
Building on all the strategy work from point one, you need to craft an aesthetic that reflects your brand personality – and that will appeal to your target audience. Logos, typography, brand colours, photography, tone of voice, website design – you need to look the part across each and every brand touchpoint so that prospects can be confident in your ability to not mess up their million-pound purchase.
Just remember, inspiring trust through your aesthetics is only part of the story – it has to go to the very roots of your business. If your brand promise isn’t paid off by the business behind it, you’ll soon be found out. And TrustPilot is an unforgiving place.
To paraphrase one of the fathers of advertising, Bill Bernbach: good marketing only helps a bad product fail faster.
- Hire a property marketing agency
Okay, so we were bound to say this. Property marketing agency in “You should use a property marketing agency” shocker.
It doesn’t have to be us, of course. In the interests of transparency, we feel obliged to say other agencies are available.
But allow us to blow our own trumpet for a minute here, because there’s a reason we’ve worked with some of the biggest and most-trusted property builders in the country – Hill Group, Durkan, Berkeley Group, Pembroke, and Hopkins Homes to name a few.
Hiring an agency with the kind of property marketing experience we can bring to bear will see you:
- develop a successful long-term marketing strategy
- create internal brand values, a mission and vision statement, and brand essence
- position your brand against the competition
- help you to discover your brand archetype
- develop accurate buyer personas
- deliver knockout design and copywriting across all your marketing assets
- select the most appropriate communications channels
- create a brand that reflects both who you are and what your target audience expects from you.
The results of all this will be a rock-solid brand foundation that builds trust with your audience, attracts more customers through well-targeted and creative communications, and becomes the basis of your entire business for years to come.