How to Strategize and Get Property Branding Right

By Mark Davis, Creative Director and Co-Founder, integrated branding agency me&dave

Most of us accept that branding is one of the most important considerations in business when it comes to fast moving consumer goods or fashion—in fact, it can be the most valuable asset. Yet many of us overlook the importance of branding in the built environment.

Why should it be any different? Effective property branding can add value by helping developers target the right consumer, meet commercial objectives, and breathe new life into the built world.

When people choose a place in which to eat, sleep, work or play, that decision is based, in large part, on an emotive reaction. Yes, that office block is ideally located for public transport, and that loft-style flat is an impressive size...but how does that have a positive impact on quality of life? Moving the story on can inspire a target audience, speed up turnaround and maximize returns.

Once you break free from the stock “brochure and logo” response to design in this sector and the bland depictions of café-lined streets inhabited by clichéd demographics, there’s huge scope for creative expression. Property branding can be beautiful, clever, funny, tongue-in-cheek—but it must always be strategic. Here are a few points to bear in mind to ensure you get it right…

Understand what branding in the built environment is and why it’s important

Good branding in the built environment makes it possible to design, build, market and sell property as fast as possible, and to produce the best returns by communicating so much more than the dry facts. People are prepared to pay a premium for branded products, so there’s tangible value to be leveraged here.

In a competitive market where developments are striving for that number one position, the branding agency’s role takes on even greater importance. What will set this building apart and attract high-yield customers? A creative branding agency will give the property edge and new layers of attraction.  

Understand the target market and drill down into what they are really buying

To be successful, a branding agency needs to have a deep understanding of the developer’s objectives, be able to drill down into the human psyche to discover what the target consumer is really buying into—and marry the two with a campaign that responds to all parties’ needs and aspirations. There is a huge potential for creativity once you hit this rich seam.

It’s not enough to say young professionals—that’s too broad. Who are they? Who do they aspire to be? How will the development tap into the way they perceive themselves?

When retirement property developer Renaissance Villages asked me&dave to help them reconnect with their target customers, we recognized the need to ditch the accepted style of branding for that sector—sedentary, unfashionable, old—and replace it with a more aspirational, active message.

The new campaign had a vibrant, urban energy, with cool photographs of people pursuing relevant, modern activities,and Renaissance Villages saw a huge increase in reservations at their developments.

Understand what the developer wants to achieve

Client collaboration is key to understanding the commercial objectives and target markets – and to responding to that information with innovative, creative campaigns.

When me&dave took on the 10/12 Hammersmith Grove campaign in West London on behalf of property regeneration specialist U+I, we were charged with thinking up ways to coax business into Hammersmith and inject new commercial life into what had become a flagging district.

Instead of taking a conventional approach and producing hoardings and publicity material covered with boring images of target consumers, we dressed a French boxer pup to represent the kinds of people U+I was hoping to lure to the development: the IT geek, the trader, the photographer, the graphic designer, the creative director. It was the perfect marriage of understanding developer strategy and meeting it with the kind of witty, creative response that appeals to these kinds of people.

Understand that the public’s response counts

People will have an opinion on a new building or development, regardless. The public will brand it for you if you don’t take the lead. To create iconic additions to the landscape, brands need to satisfy public demand and establish emotional bonds.

Creative, unique, disruptive work can reflect a developer’s true vision and make clear the positive impact a building can have on the local community, whether they form part of the target market or not. Great branding brings places to life and gives them an identity that people can relate and aspire to.

A brand is more than a marketing tool; it’s an attitude, a way of behaving, an unmistakable signature.


Mark Davis
Mark Davis is the creative force behind integrated branding agency me&dave. Since 2007, Mark and co-founder Rob Willmott have, with their team of top talent, been injecting much-needed energy and wit into branding the built environment, with inspiring concepts rooted in strategy. They’re on a mission to make the real estate sector ditch clichéd, lacklustre branding and push boundaries. Mark knows the property sector inside out and is passionate about delivering great ideas that strengthen and add value—and some “positive mischief.”