Security Capital Pacific Trust (SCPT) is a real estate investing and property management firm which is assessing how to change company brand name due to the poor effectiveness of current option on the eyes of employees, stakeholders and other individuals in the industry.
Currently, the company operates under different brand names, which create not only internal and external confusion, but also prevent it from creating unified corporate structure and sense of unity within employees.
Consequently, SCPT decided to attribute the task to develop a strategic brand development plan to the VP of Marketing and Business Development, Dana Hamilton, together with branding consulting company Lippincott & Marguiles (L&M).
Key challenges to create successful brand in real estate business
To create an effective brand, there must be alignment of internal and external operations within the company, both on strategy and execution.
In fact, behind the external promise, there must be consistent delivery on what is directly or intrinsically promised. If a company like SCPT is inconsistent with its internal values, beliefs, organizational structure and focus, then it will not have a strong brand image and it will also take the risk to hurt value despite good advertising campaign.
Looking at customers' point of view, market research conducted by SCPT to develop the branding initiative provided preliminary insights on the value of establishing strong brand name in addition to specific focus on outstanding service. Exhibit 16 highlights the great relevance that management (incl. office staff, leasing agents, etc.) has in attracting tenants, while Exhibit 12A shows that SCPT already challenges competition more on product/service differentiation rather than price.
On tenant retention side, despite change in “job location\" is the main reason for leaving for a tenant to move to another apartment, there are many other factors (such as “unhelpful staff', “behaviour of neighbours”) that can be managed by the company.
However, warning signals comes from additional survey results in Exhibit 14, which reveal that most people tend to disagree on the power of the property management company name on its own.
Brand name don't stand for anything when they are created, but, in the case of SCPT, company's service promise can become its identity (Exhibit 15 shows that current SCPT consumers have positive opinions in terms of service provided despite limited brand name reputation).
Recommendation on branding SCPT
Branding a service is probably a hard way of branding because you are taking an otherwise identical product in a competitive market and attempt to distinguish and separate themselves through only the level and quality of service provided. While consistent signage may aid in this process, the brand promise will only be fulfilled if the experience of the property is measurably better than that with a comparable service experience at a typical building within the asset class.
To achieve this, new branding campaign may primary focus on proactive effort by management to add value by differentiating the service from the one offered in the past period of time. This can work properly only if the company realign interests and actions of its own employees around the new brand promise. Then, the company has to change the perceptions of the general public to recognize the new brand promise and delivery.
Branding effort could begin internally to bring employees to an extensive understanding of what the new branded company stands for. Then, improvement of communities and delivering service to the customer would be the consequent next steps.
Finally, the branding process should also include a visible and consistent change in company name, to make the entire effort very tangible.
Outcome from this branding process is expected to touch several dimensions, but it can particularly provide great benefit on customer satisfaction and customer acquisition metrics.
In this direction, the biggest challenges for SCPT and Dana Hamilton are represented by maintaining and sharpening the brand promise in an increasingly geographically diverse and growing portfolio – in addition to the eventual challenge coming from naming issues – while completing successfully a merger that will require the new company to integrate and adopt a common culture.
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