Making the property marketing magic happen

Making the property magic happen – Nick Sammut uncovers the complex process of selling the dream.

 

The property development market is thriving, and as it incrementally changes the face of every Australian city, it’s inevitable that we consider its implications. The current pace of the sector has triggered our personal enquiries about how we want to live and why, while also radically transforming communities culturally, socially and commercially. Understanding these shifts in perceptions and knowing how to tap into the needs and expectations of a specific market are key to our role as a creative agency working in property branding.

Typically all residential property developments are briefed in with a list of similar deliverables, and typically as the creative partner working in collaboration with property developers, architects and sales agents, we begin every project with a strategic phase. Strategy is the bedrock for guiding and informing the full scope of work from creating the brand and naming to copywriting, photoshoots (including location, view and aerial), CGI’s (computer generated images), EDMs, print advertising, website development, signage and the ultimate expression of the development – the display suite. In the property sector, the creative agency’s role is about brand marketing; the marketing role of the developer and real estate agents is then to drive sales.

When we talk about property branding the focus is usually on the job of selling. Yet, as Emma Do rightly pointed out in her feature article ‘The Complex world of property development marketing’, when the product does not yet exist property marketing is essentially ‘trading in promises’. This is the emotional dimension of the transaction, the visual replication of what could be and the tools that activate engagement, empathy and importantly – create proximity to the dream.

The ability to articulate the benefits of a development is the real challenge for developers and estate agents as they embark on the sales journey with creative toolkit in hand. However, if the marketing suite fails to translate the architect’s vision and ultimately fails to convey the experience that the buyer expects from the off-the-plan purchase, sales are likely to be disappointing.

This, for me, is what makes property branding exciting. Given that the process for each property development can be very similar, it is our responsibility as a branding agency to uncover the unique engagement quality of each.

North is a current Toast Creative project in Lane Cove which has become the ultimate Sydney location for affordable luxury as well a hotbed for active property marketing campaigns in and around the area. Creating campaigns that consider the quantity and type of activity in any given area is crucial to all developments’ communications. The North brand aims to embody classic sophistication, specifically exclusivity and style, to drive this strategically lead campaign.

In a market where high-end descriptors are often perceived as generic – ‘classic sophistication’, ‘exclusive’, ‘style’ – it’s therefore the creative execution, tone of voice and refinement of the deliverables that provide the distinction necessary, for a campaign to be noticed.

I often liken off-the-plan apartment purchases to buying dreams because I can’t think of any other high-ticket item we purchase that doesn’t already exist. By definition it is a unique transaction that is aided by delicately balanced, creative, strategic communications.

In the case of North, the site’s proximity to the shopping precinct of Chatswood presented an opportunity to use photography as a medium to convey a strong understanding of the demographic’s fashion and lifestyle focus shifting away from competitors’ ‘green’ positioning. Photography is widely used in property branding but what sets this project apart is the photography’s art direction. North uses photography that is more reminiscent of a fashion shoot than the usual location shots most often used in property marketing campaigns. This tactic is just one of the ways the sector is having to adapt in order to appeal and engage on levels that are relevant and meaningful to property buyers and investors.

For Rosebery development, Asper, the brand communications leveraged the concepts of harmony, inversion and equilibrium to drive all expressions of the brand lending from the development’s hidden bamboo sanctuaries and black and white buildings. Small potted Lucky Bamboos were a signature feature throughout the campaign symbolising health, happiness, love and abundance – all values that culturally resonate with the development’s predominantly Asian market. Acknowledging Rosebery as an emerging Sydney suburb, the campaign needed to attract a stylish, urban village demographic. It cleared an impressive 75% of the first release in one day attributable to all parties.

It’s only as recently as in the last three to five years that developers and sales agents have partnered with brand and design agencies to provide brand communication strategies and design solutions. When selling apartments that do not yet exist, where the closest a buyer can get to their apartment is a CGI (computer generated image) and an off the plan layout, there is much that rests on the brand marketing efforts.

The Loom Apartments, also in Rosebery, used a narrative that tied the historical heritage of the area into the design execution. Toast commissioned internationally renowned artist, Dominique Falla, to create a custom art piece using her skills of tactile typography. She was photographed and filmed as she wove. These assets were used throughout the marketing process. Falla’s final piece is installed in the lobby as an ongoing reminder of the dedication, craft and artistry that went into the design of the Loom Apartments.

It is creative ideas such as these that prove the worth of solid strategic thinking. Taking an adventurous approach to chosen mediums and executions and guarding the consistency of a strategy’s implementation can make one property branding project just that little bit different to the next; it’s these degrees of difference that really count.

There are plenty of examples of solid brand property marketing to share. The Property Agency’s work on Foveaux Street and Cornwell’s work on Garden House in Sydney’s Waterloo, are two others worth noting.

Going forward the sector has huge potential for even more dynamic and progressive marketing tactics that extend beyond the traditional property marketing paradigm. Developers and sales agents are slowly gravitating to brand communications that demand a more innovative and adaptive approach to entice consumers to engage in the cycle of consideration then purchase.

Brand activation in the property sector is gradually gaining traction where ideas such as apartment customization, convenience packages, residents’ schemes, high value giveaways on purchase, and even pop up shops are changing the way we understand and respond to property brand marketing.

 

Nick Sammut is managing director of Toast Creative.