Building Brand to Add Value to Multifamily Portfolios: A Data-Driven Approach

Standing out in the multifamily real estate market isn’t easy. It is curious that the multifamily industry, in contrast to hospitality, has not developed at least a few strong, identifiable brands. Ask someone who isn’t a professional in the industry to name a management company or owner, and most people will struggle. But with one-third of the country renting their housing, it’s likely that at one point almost everyone in the US is a consumer of rental housing. So how can such a large industry not focus on branding to differentiate buildings by quality and services? By leveraging data-driven insights and innovative strategies, today’s operators do have a greater ability to create distinctive brands for both individual buildings and entire portfolios.[1] Conceptually, branding has great possibilities for multifamily operators, but the potential has yet to be fully realized. Strategic use of data is key, offering insights into the actionable steps available to implement a powerful, game-changing branding approach.

The Importance of Branding in Multifamily Real Estate

Branding is essential to differentiate multifamily properties from competitors and create a recognizable identity. A well-defined brand conveys a property’s personality, values, and the unique experience it offers to residents.[2] Consistently delivering on the brand promise fosters trust and loyalty among target audiences, which leads to higher occupancy rates and greater resident retention.[3]

In multifamily real estate, branding goes beyond logos and color schemes. It encompasses the overall experience offered to residents, from the first interaction to the little things that occur during a long-term tenancy. Effective branding can create a sense of community, security, and belonging, which is crucial in an industry where personal space and community living intersect. The integration of cohesive and authentic elements, such as art, community activities, and consistent themes, can create a common thread that ties properties together while allowing each to retain its unique personality within a portfolio. So what exactly does it mean to utilize data to achieve a successful brand?

Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset

Being “data-driven is more than just a buzz word for paying attention to what works and what doesn’t. It means identifying relevant data points, collecting the data over a defined period of time, setting targets for success and iterating once the results show where initiatives resonate and result in the most optimal performance. Effective multifamily marketers have access to extensive information about their target audiences, market trends, and portfolio performance. Utilizing empirical data insights enables informed decisions that optimize marketing strategies and maximize ROI.[4] Data-driven marketing allows companies to use data collected to facilitate more effective segmentation and personalization.[5]

Implementing a Data-Driven Approach to Multifamily Branding

At a high-level, using data to drive brand and optimize performance may sound daunting, but it really requires discipline to select and test a few available avenues in the market, to track the performance of the initiatives, and to double down on what is working and abandon what isn’t.

Modernize Capabilities

The first step towards data-driven portfolio performance involves selecting an approach to modernize capabilities with existing and new technology and tools that enhance data collection, analysis, and decision-making.[6] A complete overhaul day one is not necessary and may actually delay getting started. Rather, a plan to ensure that there are ways to capture desirable data-points and track performance is a great start, with longer term plans to upgrade interoperability to enable automation is ideal.

Track and Attribute Leads

Effective lead tracking and attribution are vital for understanding the efficacy of various marketing channels and tactics. Maintaining a clean and accurate database simplifies result analysis and data-driven decision-making.[7] There are free customer relationship management (CRM) platforms available in the market, all the way to multifamily specific systems that integrate with your property management system. The complexity on this part of the process depends upon your budget and bandwidth to train on rolling out such tools.

Segment Target Audiences

Multifamily marketers can adopt segmentation strategies from the single-family home market by classifying target audiences based on preferences, demographics, and lifestyle. This allows for personalized marketing and better brand alignment with target audience needs.[8] Housing is a highly regulated industry with fair housing considerations that should be taken into account when devising any segmentation strategy.

Create Compelling Content

Consistent and engaging content reinforces brand messaging and builds trust among target audiences. Data-driven insights can guide content strategies to ensure resonance with the target audience.[9] Consider using members of your on-site team to participate in the conversation and act as influencers of your brand.

Ensure Cohesive and Authentic Branding

A multifamily brand should be cohesive across the portfolio while allowing for unique and authentic elements at the individual properties. Incorporating local art, community themes, and a consistent voice can create a common thread that ties properties together. Interview your residents to find out what about the property they chose is most compelling to them, and look for data points that are consistent across properties and user groups. Work with marketing experts who are experts in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) or hospitality space and have built brands that last to build a brand guide and demand strict adherence to the guide. This approach not only enhances the overall brand identity but also allows each property to retain its distinct personality.

Measure and Optimize

Regularly evaluating the effectiveness of branding and marketing efforts is essential for data-driven decision-making. Set and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and conduct further market research provides insights for optimization strategies and enhances results over time.[10]

Personalization and Experiential Branding

Implementing personalization and experiential branding is a way to speak directly to the target audience in a way that makes a property a community, and a unit a home. The things that resonate most deeply to consumers are those that touch the things that are most important to them. Brands like Homestead Suites leans in on providing at-home comforts for the business traveler, offering free breakfast, full kitchens and pet friendly long-term accommodations. Southwest Airlines offers budget travel with self-selected seats, 2 free checked bags and jovial flight attendants to create a brand that exceeds the market consistently with it’s NPS (net promoter score). Both Homestead Suites and Southwest allow their customers ways to personalize their experience and create interactions that exceed expectations.

Personalization Strategies

Real estate companies can use personalization to enhance their branding efforts by tailoring experiences to their individual resident preferences. For instance, leveraging data on resident preferences can enable customized welcome packages, personalized communication, and tailored community events. This approach not only strengthens the brand but also fosters a deeper connection with residents. Memorable brand experiences, combined with the right data and technology to personalize touchpoints — including generative AI and digital marketing platforms — can stimulate willingness to choose a given property, higher renewal rates, and lifetime loyalty.[11]

Creating an Experiential Brand

Branding in multifamily real estate is more than just visual elements like colors and fonts. An experiential brand focuses on the feelings and experiences residents have. This can be achieved through high-quality customer service, unique community events, and thoughtfully designed communal spaces. For example, creating wellness programs, integrating smart home technologies, and fostering a community-centric atmosphere can significantly enhance the resident experience and reinforce the brand’s identity. Operators can use AI-powered tools and digital platforms to offer personalized experiences, such as reminders about community events or maintenance schedules, creating a seamless and engaging living experience.[11] Even just asking a resident how they prefer to receive communications (email, text or phone call) can go a long way to giving a resident a feeling of community and belonging.

Latest Trends in Multifamily Branding

The multifamily industry is continuously evolving, with new trends and technologies emerging. [12][13][14][15] Staying abreast of these trends and best practices, can go a long way to ensuring your company’s brand stays relevant in the market. A reliable and consistent brand builds trust, which in the multifamily environment means potential leasing premiums, higher renewal rates, longer lease terms, better resident engagement and satisfaction, which all lends to higher revenue and a positive impact to the properties value. Brand also leads to virality — previously referred to as ‘word of mouth’ and ‘referrals’ — which drives down the cost of resident acquisition. With marketing expenses reduced, net operating income is increased and the property value is increased. Multiply this brand factor across an entire portfolio, and multifamily operators should start to see a compelling reason to focus on brand.

Sources

[1] Effectively Branding a Multifamily Property, https://propmodo.com/effectively-branding-a-multifamily-property/

[2] The Power of Branding — in Real Estate, https://colorworks.design/the-power-of-branding-in-real-estate/

[3] How Branding Leads to Higher Occupancy and Retention, https://multifamilyaffordablehousing.com/how-branding-leads-to-higher-occupancy-and-retention

[4] Four ways to harness the power of data to boost your multifamily marketing strategies, https://www.rentbot.co/four-ways-to-harness-data/

[5] 3 Amazing Ways to Leverage Data to Drive Multifamily Marketing Success, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-amazing-ways-leverage-data-drive-multifamily-marketing-success/

[6] How Multifamily Operators Achieve Data-Driven Portfolio Performance in 3 Steps, https://blog.knockcrm.com/3-steps-to-data-driven-performance

[7] 5 Tactics Multifamily Marketers Can Apply Today to Increase ROI on Their Portfolio, https://remarkably.io/blog/5-tactics-multifamily-marketers-can-apply-today-to-increase-roi-on-their-portfolio

[8] What Multifamily Can Learn From Single-Family Marketing, https://www.multihousingnews.com/what-multifamily-can-learn-from-single-family-marketing/

[9] Multifamily Meets Content Creation: Unlocking New Potential, by Gabriel Freeman https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/multifamily-meets-content-creation-unlocking-new-gabriel-freeman-lkvhe

[10] A Guide to Creating a Marketing Strategy for Your Multi-family Real Estate, https://iconsofrealestate.com/marketing-strategy-for-your-multi-family-real-estate

[11] The New Real Estate Investment Edge: Tech-Enabled Brand, CX, and Loyalty, https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-future-of-brand-strategy-its-time-to-go-electric

[12] Elevating your marketing game with the power of multichannel, https://solutions.rent.com/blog/elevating-multifamily-marketing

[13] Use These Powerful Branding Strategies for Multifamily Properties to Stand Out in the Market, https://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/multifamily-blogs/use-these-powerful-branding-strategies-for-multifamily-properties-to-stand-out-in-the-market

[14] Grabbing attention: graphic design trends for multifamily marketing in 2024, https://solutions.rent.com/blog/graphic-design-trends-for-multifamily-marketing/

[15] Digital Marketing Strategies for Multifamily Properties, https://www.sharplaunch.com/blog/digital-marketing-strategies-for-multifamily-properties/

 

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