Brand design for buildings
Who’s got the latest, who’s got the greatest and who’s got the most. A race to have it all and nothing as soon as the next pops up. Continuous investment into what someone else has just released. So how do we get out of the race for the new?
Selling/leasing a property currently relies on a asset-driven approach. Who’s got the latest, who’s got the greatest and who’s got the most. A race to have it all and nothing as soon as the next pops up. Continuous investment into what someone else has just released.
As in most sectors this type of marketing is fairly common. An easier way to get your head around the “what makes this product different from the next?” way of setting it apart from the competition. This certainly does have its merits but can have a short lifespan and retains a risk of something else coming along with the same or better offering. So how do we get out of the race for the new?
The answer to this isn’t new and there’s years of precedent in this. Easiest example is Coke. Coke, Pepsi and other cola soft drinks are pretty hard to distinguish in a blind taste; I know a lot of people would disagree with this point but that’s exactly what I’m referring to. There’s something about the product that generates loyalty. This loyalty is not something that has just happened. It’s the audience saying this product is better because they culturally associate this with it being their preferred. How they get to that point is through brand building and sale through association-type marketing. It’s a long-sell strategy, but it works. It’s why Airbnb made a huge shift from performance to brand building last year as their majority marketing spend.
How does this then relate to buildings? A building already has a physical presence in the urban fabric of a city. It’s something you have to engage with, walk past, see in your eye line or use as a point of navigation. The vernacular of the building brings with it cultural associations of good or bad design depending on the background of the viewer. Understanding this allows us to work out how to change those associations, shift the conversation from what could be classified as bad or boring design into being more than a building. The era of “the building sells itself” is coming to an end with the rise of buildings as a brand coming into its own.
We’ve seen this evolution from a building into a brand before. The Barbican is probably the best know. A multi-functional development at the heart of London with it’s modernist aesthetic and ethos. From it’s construction it has been a space for professionals to live and work in the city surrounded by culture and to this day is still the same. It’s a visual of concrete, orange, Futura typeface and energised photography with space to breathe. From the posters to walking into the foyer it feels like a space where everything is happening. All this doesn’t just happen overnight, it’s a decision based on an understanding that the Barbican is a organisation with a set of associations; it’s a brand. Built over time with consistent enforcement of message, meaning and brand building is what leds to the Barbican's success.
As more and more building owners are seeing this shift and embracing it the built environment sector is becoming more exciting. It’s still a few years behind B2C and even B2B organisations but is quickly catching up.