The reality of realty branding

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Gayatri Shrikhande,  writer and brand ideator, chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy.

Gayatri Shrikhande, writer and brand ideator, chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy.

The only thing crowding India more than its people, is the number of real-estate developments over the last few years. In every major Tier-1 and Tier-11 city, commercial and residential properties are springing up at breakneck speed. And the only thing more undifferentiated than these constructions is their communication.

In this hugely cluttered industry, differentiating your brand is even more important because there are so many factors that go into choosing a property. Trusting the developer, the offering, advice from friends and family and of course price, are all deciding factors.

Scan the real-estate ads in your newspaper today. Many will show the building from the outside, a tall structure, probably an architect’s rendition. What about the inside? The assumption is always that a taller, fancier looking building makes for a better status symbol.

Lodha was one of the first brands to question this. Alok Nanda, founder of ANC, the agency behind brand Lodha, said the more important thing was to show a prospective customer what his house itself looks like. Why such an obvious thought didn’t strike the other brands, is anyone’s guess. After all, the customer is the one living inside the house, not admiring the building from outside!

Lodha easily had some of the classiest communication in real-estate a few years ago, and not just because its properties were high-end. It focussed clearly on the inside of the property, the views, the lifestyle. In just a few years, it reached a point that the likes of Raheja, Hiranandani and Kalpataru, who’ve been around for decades, took much longer to get to.
More and more developers have now woken up to the fact that buildings crowded together in a picture do not qualify as good advertising or help build their brand.

What needs to be sold is the life you will lead inside this house, whether that house costs 70 lakh or 20 crore rupees. Plush sofas, unattainable-looking women, crockery you’d never dream of using every day and staring out into a deep blue sky make a prospective buyer stop and stare. The only problem is, everyone’s started doing this.

Along with larger-than-life communication, developers now also give their properties names like Ekta Tripolis, Nahar’s Amrit Shakti and Nisarg Hyde Park. Whatever you may think of these names, the fact is, they stick in your mind simply because they are so odd. Their constant full-page advertisements and hoardings across the city make sure you just can’t ignore them.

But that does not differentiate them. The sad truth is, you could interchange the logos of all these brands, and get away with it because they all promise ‘luxurious living’, ‘breath-taking views’, ‘a world of your own’ and ‘stylish lifestyles’. While what the brand offers may not always be different from the next guy, the way it is said will get it noticed.

To my mind, Lodha is still the only real-estate brand whose communication I’ll identify without hesitation, whose logo I’ll recognize without the brand name.

Here’s hoping that list grows longer.

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