Security captical Pacific trust 1. The lack of branding in SCPT? There are several reasons that explain the traditional lack of branding in the real estate industry. One of the most important reasons is that the real estate industry has been seen as a commodity business for hundreds of years; the main focus was on the property ‘ and so the product was considered as a tangible aspect only ‘ not about the customer. E. g. SCPT did not even know who its customers were (Fournier & Thorp, 2001).
There was almost no information on their key customer segments, the key drivers of customer choice, preference and satisfaction. Also, branding is seen as a natural process, what assumes extra attention to branding is not necessary. Besides, because competitors neither focus on branding, and organizations tend to imitate each other (Levitt & March, 1988), branding seems less important. Hence, real estate businesses can be seen as financial organizations, in which it is difficult to come up with a look and a feeling. These are essential to position a brand and to create a certain brand image in the consumer’s mind.
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Moreover, this look and feeling are needed to create a clear brand identity and purpose in the employee’s mind. By mainly focusing on the tangible aspect itself, the unique selling points (USP’s) can be communicated clearly, while the emotional selling points (ESP’s) are often forgotten. For the creation of a branding strategy, these ESP’s are most important (De Pelsmacker et al. , 2004). With the addition of emotional aspects, the consumer will get a certain feeling or emotion towards the brand and its products, while with the use of USP’s only, this goal of setting a certain brand image will be almost impossible to reach.
Shortly, the focus on the functional benefits and the tangible aspects of a certain property against the lack of the non-functional benefits and the intangible aspects of the product package as a whole, including e. g. the services being offered, the feeling of having a safe and cozy place to live, where you can invite your family, friends and relatives, can account to the traditional lack of branding. Furthermore, the real estate industry is focused on the immediate, in other words, pay backs are on the short term. A long term branding strategy does not fit within the investment company’s corporate strategy.
Therefore, branding initiatives were seen as fulfilling the marketing task. Though, the management team acknowledges the potentials of branding, they also for see great risks to fail and so they are not willing to put a big amount of money, which would be needed, in branding. Looking at the marketing activities at SCPT until now, the focus was largely on tactics, at the regional and local levels, while the national level needs more attention to make corporate branding successful. Looking at the overall situation on a national level, branding in the real estate industry was not present at all.
The only activity being seen was not more than putting the company’s name on its properties, which they called ‘branding’. Possible reasons to this limited amount of effort put into branding are linked to the availability of monetary resources within the industry, compared to the predicted results when investing certain amounts of money in branding in general. The lack of trust concerning the level of success, which could possibly be generated by creating a branding strategy resulted in the actual lack of branding in the real estate industry.
Another reason includes the evolvement of the investment market. Since the emergence of REITs, many investment companies saw opportunities in executing consumer services. Though, in practice, consumer services were not carried out as servicing the customer, but were treated as a necessary evil. E. g. the consumer made only use of the services when they had complaints. Besides, customer services traditionally were no core business of investment companies. Therefore, there is no platform to operate from and a translation to one corporate branding strategy cannot be made.
This can be supported by the fact that the awareness of services is very low (9%) before leasing an apartment. With regard to SCPT, the investment company and consumer services are merged under one roof nowadays. 2. Steps that SCPT should follow to brand. As concluded in the case, there is a significant potential in focusing on customer’s needs, the third C in the triangle of Company, Competitor and Customer. In doing so, SCTP can build customer-based brand equity (Keller, 2001). Keller (2001) provides a four steps-model to build a strong brand that customers like to relate to.
Step 1. Identity, who are you? (Potential) customers should think of SCPT at the right time and at the right place, and also very easily (depth) and often (breath). The merger between SCPT Reality and SCG Reality Services can be used to create brand identity. Through, the merger SCPT offers both property and customer services. Although both aspects are not considered as one, they can reinforce each other. Through this vertical extension of product portfolio it became more easy to think of the brand (breath) so customers will think of it more often (depth).
This should be increased and hold on to. Further it is important for SCPT to profit from this and make (potential) customers think of them at the right time and in the right way. This is where SCPT goes to the next step of the ‘branding ladder’. Step 2. Meaning, what are you? The aim is to create a strong (brand should be strongly identified with the brand association), favorable (brand associations should be valuable to the customer), and unique (brand associations should differ from competitors’ brand associations) brand (Keller, 2001).
Creating a meaning of a brand should be done through performance related considerations and imagery related considerations. Performance related considerations are based on the functional needs of customers, the more tangible associations of branding. SCPT mostly focused on these aspects in the past years. This is valuable for this brand building block since product quality and related services are reflected here; to gain high quality of products and services employees have to be inspired by and focused on the right product or service characteristics (Keller, 1999; Keller, 2001).
Imagery related considerations refer to the more abstract, social and psychological needs that customers have (Keller, 2001). These are based on customers’ personal situations and the brand’s history. The results of the focus group can be studied to get information on this ‘building block’. When a strong, favorable and unique brand is established, the brand manager can start focusing on how the customer thinks and feels about the brand, which is covered by the third step of the ‘branding ladder’. Step 3. Response, what about you?
Customers respond on brands through brand judgments and brands feelings. The first is based on quality, credibility, considerations and/or superiority. The latter is based on warmth, fun, excitement, security, social approval and self respect (Keller, 2001). Either or both, judgments and feelings should be positive for the brand to generate favorable responses at the customer side. In order for SCPT to become successful in branding, it is necessary to establish the correct thoughts and feelings in their customers’ minds. Step 4. Relations, what about you and me?
Brand relationship is reflected by intensity (strength of attitudinal attachment) and activity (frequency of buying and using the brand) and can be split in behavioral loyalty, attitudinal attachment, sense of community and active engagement (Keller, 2001). Active engagement is the ultimate action of customers to occur. To realize this, SCPT should focus on the relationship and level of personal identification their customers have with the brand. When SCPT has realized this, their customers are willing to invest time, energy, money, or other resources into the brand (Keller, 2001). References
Fornier, S. & Thorp, S. (2001) “Security Capital Pacific Trust: A Case for Branding. ” Harvard Business School: pp. 1-30. Keller (1999) “Brand Mantras: Rationale, Criteria and Examples,” Journal of Marketing Management, 15: pp. 43-51. Keller (2001) “Building Customer-Based Brand Equity”, Marketing Management, 10: pp. 15-19. Levitt, B. , March, J. G. , (1988). “Organization Learning”, Annual Review of Sociology, 14: pp. 319-340. Pelsmacker De, P. , Geuens, M. & Van den Bergh, J. (2004) “A European Perspective”. Journal of Marketing Communications . Pearson Education Limited, pp. 185.