The property industry is very big on logos. We just love a logo. Which is strange, since it is seriously immature when it comes to brands and - far more importantly - brand values. It is all rather odd really. With some notable exceptions of course, mainly in the high-end office sector: the classic being the Chiswick Park "Enjoy Work.com" campaign, which may be a little dated now (and I will never forget when Dev Sec unveiled "Paddington Central" in about 2000, it seriously blew me away!), the industry doesn't put much thought into these things.
I remember this leaving me seriously at a disadvantage when I was studying for my MBA (I couldn't find a decent case study from my industry for love nor money). I guess if the opportunity for repeat business is pretty limited, why would you bother to adopt the mores of the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector? House builders, in particular, tend to be pretty perfunctory in all this; the stark truth being that, after all, there will only ever be one transaction (so take the money and run!).
We are not quite in splendid isolation here. I was reading in some daft mag or other that Marcos Molina, the meat multi-billionaire magnate, is trying to create the "Coca-Cola of meat". He says "In proteins we could say that really there are no brands in the world that are global brands" and his global brand (called "Seara") is now being developed. Make no mistake, he is for real.
But we don't even really have much in the way of national, or even regional, brands in property, let alone global. Susan Freeman wrote a great piece on this a few years back; lamenting that Urban Splash and Manhattan Lofts were just about the only brands we had as a sector. That is, that anyone outside of the business might have heard of.
UKR is giving this a huge amount of thought of course, as our business model is rather dependent on repeat business. Thank goodness for the lovely Malcolm Allan of Place Matters (formerly of Locum/Colliers CRE), a planner and real estate aficionado who is putting some energy and expertise into all of this for us and for others. He can help companies define their brand proposition and help frame proposals for any proposed property development to exemplify that brand proposition, bringing it alive so that the market can see what the offer is and the experience of being there.
He specialises in place/destination brand propositions for any organisation operating in the property industry or the housing market, setting out the vision for the development of the organisation, the product and service offer, the market, how to create your product and deliver your services, the benefits your market will derive, the benefits your investors will derive and, crucially, why you are (positively) different from the competition.
Malcolm is a mate. And he is helping us identify our way forward, doing a seminar for UKR this Thursday and generally being an all round good egg (another example of a protein without a brand, not that I think that it matters at all in this instance). Be under no illusion, the massive dislocation we have seen in the industry means that all things will change. The time for the serious brand in property may well have come.