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Caroline von Westerholt. Credit: Marc Peter

Consumers Love Brands, Brands Love Brands – Start Being a Brand

A thoughtful brand strategy is the essential basis of any marketing effort. The brand, the expectation raised, is what remains after all of the marketing has swept through the room. It is what sticks in your customers’ minds. It is what makes them loyal. It is what makes them think you are worth a visit.

By Caroline von Westerholt

Nowadays, as retail real estate is shipping within uncertain waters, budgets are generally kept short. Nevertheless, marketing efforts of any kind, digital or analogue, are broadened to gain any possible customer. Landlords, real estate management companies, and city representatives are asking themselves which marketing channels are the most promising in order to get the most out of their marketing budgets.

Even though homework with regard to target group research, up-to-date design, and channeling is well done, more and more often, marketing efforts do not have the desired effect on consumers or potential tenants. What could be the reasons? Since we all agree that marketing nowadays is not a matter of yes or no, but is crucial to the retail real estate sector, what makes it effective?

Strategic Branding as the Crucial Basis of Any Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes made within a marketing strategy is the lack of a thoughtful superior brand strategy. The customers, consumers, and tenants alike, have become more and more mature. The amount of offers made digitally, in social media, or other channels are overwhelming, leading to two effects. Customers are better informed than ever about the range any possible location has on offer. At the same time, this huge amount of tempting offers forces people to quickly filter and sort out their options. Potential customers will only consider those kinds of offers that can clearly provide an added value.

Therefore, all marketing efforts will only be effective when they are based on a clear branding strategy, focusing on the individual added value of any location, company, or city. Strategically targeted branding entails more than developing a fancy name or logo. It is the essential part of any quality development as it identifies the strengths of a company, a location, as well as products. Then, it is formed into a clear location strategy and translated into a believable, reliable, and captivating story.

Branding is as vital to the success of a retail location or company as having financial coherence. It is about showing retailers, consumers, and customers alike that you and your location are worth being considered.

The Brand Story Shows Retailers, Consumers, and Customers That You Are Worth Being Considered

Strategic branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of a place, store, organization, or service. It is the basis of any kind of communication that addresses customers. It tells the story of special characteristics, added value, and unique selling points. It points out what your location has to offer and what the customer can expect when visiting or renting a space within your location.

A well-developed brand involves telling the customer, “That is me. That is what you can expect from me. That is what I have to offer you. And, that is why I am better than the competitors!”

Keeping Promises, Living up to Expectations

Brands are built from many things and are constantly developing. To be more efficient and more effective, one has to know the advantages and potentials that are relevant to customers. By identifying the possible added value and advantages your place provides for your potential customers, it becomes clear in which direction your location should develop further. Which tenants and external brands suit your strategy? Which add-ons contribute further to the desired tenant mix?

Once developed, whether or not the actual experience delivers with respect to the promises the brand has made will be crucial to the success of a brand strategy. A customer who is disappointed once will not return and might spread negative feedback on social media. Therefore, being careful about the promises a brand makes is just as essential as having a brand strategy at all. Strategic branding always involves balancing promises, raising expectations, and pointing out advantages.

About the Author:
Caroline von Westerholt has a master’s degree in real estate economics and is the Head of Strategy & Repositioning of Retail Real Estate at Twenty One Media GmbH (Germany). Prior to that, she spent nine years as Director of Development for Urban Districts at MAB Development GmbH and five years in Asset & Portfolio Management for Commercial Real Estate at Provinzial Versicherung.


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