What does branding mean to you?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says the word branding?
Most people think of logos and symbols:
- the distinct Coca Cola red can with the white script
- the Apple icon that needs no words
- the rainbow colored Google name
Companies can spend countless hours and large sums of money trying to orchestrate their brand. These resources are frequently invested into choosing colors, graphics, imagery, web design, ad layouts, and more.
The complete definition of brand (per Google) is:
- Mark with a branding iron (e.g. a brand on a calf)
- Assign a brand name to
In reality, branding is more complex than concocting ways to get more name/logo recognition (as suggested by Definition 2). The real results of branding are closer to Definition 1. Once a company has been “branded” in a certain way, it can be difficult to change or remove; it is more like the indelible ownership mark put on cattle.
Although you do have some influence over it, your property management company brand is actually “put on” you too. It is comprised of the thoughts prospects, clients, colleagues, and even strangers have when they encounter your company’s name, logo, or other marketing materials. This brand is not only made up of the words you use to describe yourself on your website, brochures, and ads; it also includes what people say about you to friends, families, and colleagues. This “branding” takes place in other people’s heads and is based their experience with your company. The brand is a combination of personal, virtual, and word of mouth experiences with your company’s personality and reputation that lead to an overall perception of your business.
Being “branded” is not always positive; the wrong kind of branding can damage your credibility and hurt your opportunity for growth and success. You can’t control the thoughts and reactions people have to your property management company, but you CAN control the way you run your business. You have a strong influence over your brand, and can purposely run your management company in a way that is more likely to generate a positive brand experience.
Here are some areas you can control:
Your property managers, leasing agents, and support staff can be the biggest asset to your brand (or the biggest hindrance). You run a service business, where owners, tenants, and vendors interact with you and your team every day. These interactions are extremely important in developing a good reputation (online and off). Make sure your personnel are:
- Kind – friendly, courteous interactions can make even negative situations better.
- Compassionate – if your team listens to and tries to understand situations, your clientele will be satisfied with the encounter (even when they don’t get what they want).
- Responsible – doing what you say you will do is a remarkable trait these days; people will notice and be grateful for it.
- Responsive – dedicate time every day to reply to email, return calls, and provide proactive status updates.
- Knowledgeable – educate and train the personnel that you hire so they are confident and proficient in performing their responsibilities.
A brand is not built on the thoughts or feelings of one person. It is built over time through consistent experiences. You can create that consistency through hiring the right personnel and creating solid systems – both are extremely important.
However, you should also be consistent in your marketing. This goes back to the more common perception of brand (logos, etc.). Make sure your offline marketing materials, online presence, and the message people get when they talk to your team are consistent. Use the same colors, imagery, logo, words, and font type. These elements all work together to produce a visual picture of your brand that leads to instant recognition.
Whether it’s your strong suit or not, you probably agree that an organized property management office is more productive – clients are happier, fewer fires erupt, and the staff is better at performing their job functions. Creating and documenting systems lay the foundation for an organized office. Defining systems makes it easy for your team to work together and serve more people. Create property management systems for:
- General Office Operations
- And more
Systems facilitate trust. They create a framework for setting and fulfilling client expectations. A disorganized office with few or no systems will naturally get more complaints, negative reviews, and get fewer referrals.
Accessibility / Visibility
When you have a good brand, you want people to know it. Make sure you spread the word through social media, local media, events, and through supporting charities.
Limited visibility and accessibility can generate suspicion because the modern world expects transparency. Don’t be afraid of negative comments and reviews. If you do the foundational work of building your brand, you won’t get many. And, if you do get one here and there, view them as an opportunity to shine.
Put a system in place to monitor and respond to negative in a way that makes your company stand out. Prospective clients who read your reviews know you are not perfect. Your response to negative reviews can show them that you are accountable for your mistakes; able to manage negative situations professionally, and that you are responsive (even if you might prefer not to be).
If you are just getting started in property management, you have a clean slate. You can build your brand from scratch. Now is the time to identify and design processes that produce positive experiences (which lead to a trustworthy brand reputation).
If you have been running your property management business for a while, it is a good time to evaluate your current systems and identify areas that are causing damage to your brand (and fix them). You may also find areas of strength that you can make even better (and promote through your marketing channels).
Story by: Dee Allomong