There was a time not that long ago when the definition of brand was tied to the logo but today, as educated consumers, we now know that brand is much more than the logo. Author, speaker, and brand guru, Marty Neumeier puts it best, “brand is a gut feeling”. Your property rental management brand is a perception. It is the perception of your guests but also your employees, vendors, and partners.
Controlling that perception is impossible but if you start with a strong brand foundation, align all your brand decisions with that foundation and execute on them with clear and consistent communications that always tie back to the brand, your property rental management brand will shine.
Besides a Gut Feeling, What is Brand Really?
If the success of marketing is based on sales, then the success of brand is based on experience and engagement. Brand is less about the product or service as it is about the dedication to the internal team and the customers who engage with the company. Brand represents the behavior surrounding all aspects of the business operations and the experience over time. Brand is Culture.
We’ll dig deeper into that behavior but first, let’s start with design. Your brand design is the visual expression of your company. The name and the logo are likely the first things that people perceive. It is the first impression through a sensory channel (eyes and ears) which is why people connect with the name (hear) and logo (see) so strongly.
The lesson here is to be mindful of design. Just because you have a computer, does not mean you can design a logo or website that aligns with the quality of your brand. Leave the design to the experts and focus on what you are an expert at. That said before you start with design, you need to understand or discover who you are as a brand so you can articulate a platform that will then inform every aspect of your communication, including design and voice.
Your Brand Platform is Composed of 3 Things
- Values: Your value, your worth. All that you believe in.
- Personality: Your overall tone and character (this aspect will inform design the most).
- Promise: Your commitment to both your guest and customer as well as your internal team.
It is also important to note that your brand values should differentiate you so words like integrity and honesty are not good values. Those characteristics should be in your DNA as a company. Unique values that only you can claim will work better for you and make you stand out. Spend time to consider and capture a platform that speaks to your property management company and no one else’s.
If your brand platform has been developed by key stakeholders, it is critical to make sure any employees and close partners have a clear understanding of it, so everyone is saying the same thing and behaving in the same ways to avoid any confusion about the brand. It is also especially important to know that every single engagement or visual expression with the property or anyone associated with it will represent the brand. What your guest sees and how they feel IS the gut feeling. Be intentional.
Your brand will speak to who you are, what you do, and perhaps most importantly, why it matters. Your platform (what you look like and how you behave) will provide differentiation in your competitive field and set you apart.
Why Does Brand Matter to Guests?
Less than 20% of travelers remember who they stayed with 60 days after check-out. So, connecting with them on every level through experience on property and booking is vital for return visits and referrals. You are missing a huge opportunity if you do not consider brand as carefully as you are considering sales.
It is not just the property that represents brand but how you deliver the property is a big part. How you decorate, what amenities you offer, and how you communicate is probably the aspect of your company that people will remember but going above and beyond the property itself will help you to gain recognition and a better reputation than your competitors. Clarity and consistency in everything your brand delivers are the most important thing you can do for your property management brand.
All communications should reflect the brand platform and tie back to the brand. You want your brand to be omnipresent. You want your guests to know who you are without even realizing it. To do that you need to make sure that you are delivering brand consistently with the character that captures your company. Make sure people see your brand identity. If your brand behavior is a highlight, they’ll need to have brand recognition in the visual expression and the logo.
Don’t Forget About Your Tangible Brand Assets
And speaking of the logo, make it count through simplicity, focus, and meaning. Here are tips to remember when developing and delivering your brand design assets which include logo, website, photography, email, social media channels, and advertising.
- Your brand identity should be simple, memorable, relevant to the brand, easy to read at any size, and lasting.
- Consider the file format for assets (high-quality 300dpi at size) should be delivered for print.
- Colors – align with brand, translate across channels and sizes, and readability (white type on yellow will not be legible).
- Colors have meaning and consider them wisely. The tone and amount of color used matter.
- Make sure your brand assets are used consistently, are scalable, and have recognition.
- Use your brand everywhere. Use it on your property as well as all the channels.
- Use clear brand messaging in marketing and advertising for repeated recognition.
- Develop brand usage guidelines and make sure anyone who is using your logo, tag or messaging has them.
- Hire the experts for design! The cost of a logo used for a decade can be priceless.
We know now that a brand is more than the logo or the tangible assets but how they are used can make or break the brand impression for your property rental management company. Pay attention to the details and be mindful of the delivery.
How Your Brand Positioning Has Evolved
If your brand identity does its job, you will stand out and get recognized but you will likely most often find your tribe through word of mouth based on a brilliant brand experience. We choose brands based on an inherent desire to be part of a tribe, and we look for brands that are positioned as such. Brand loyalty can be captured based on how you deliver on your brand platform, brand story, and promise.
Brand position has evolved from how you are different or better in what you sell to how you are different and better in how you sell and why you sell. Simon Sinek famously says, “It’s not about the what, it’s about the why”. Three important factors in capturing a unique position and answering your why are as follow:
- Determine what differentiates you in the competitive market based on your brand platform. Brand expert Marty Neumeier says, “brand is built from the inside out”. Make sure your team understands how to speak about your brand, share the knowledge and build awareness around the culture. Bring your local community into the context of your brand because where you are physically positioned also matters.
- Know who your market is. Understand who they are and what they want. While your brand identity, brand behavior, and delivery will attract your tribe, you should still know who they are and how they feel. Use your brand voice to speak to them so they connect back to brand.
- Communicate tangible differentiators like hospitality, amenities, pet friendly, local parks, beaches, and community locations of interest. Make the experience and engagement a conversation. Ask for feedback on how to make the experience better.
We are living in the age of the experience economy and as a property manager, you are in the best position to leverage that by delivering a thoughtful and strong brand that resonates with that economic environment. If you are mindful of who you are as a brand and have spent time considering the importance of it, you should be able to answer the following questions.
- Do you have a brand platform?
- Do you know your why?
- Do you know how you are different (Visually and experientially)?
- Do you know what your unique value proposition or promise is? (for homeowners, internal team, and guests)?
- Are all brand decisions based on your brand platform and do all communications connect back to your brand?
- Does everything you do leave a positive brand impression? It’s a brand ecosystem and it matters. (from giveaways to beds to websites to communications).
- Is your brand omnipresent? Do your guests know you without even knowing?
A strong brand does not happen overnight but if you consider it in detail and deliver it with clarity, consistency, and the character that defines your property rental management company, you are well on your way to brand success. It is also important to know that brand governance is a continuous effort. Make sure your message matches the experience of anyone who engages with your brand. Remember brand is culture and the more you can nurture your culture the better your brand and your business will be.