The journalist from one of the most widely read newspapers in Spain sent me an email that started like this: As one of the greatest experts in branding…. And which continued with many questions: What is it that leads a construction company to associate a luxury brand with a real estate development? How can it influence the potential buyer? Why do you think that the real estate sector (real estate developments, hotels…) tends more and more to associate a luxury brand with its product (homes, hotels…)? What benefits does it obtain from this? What is a consumer currently looking for in a brand?
The list that gives its names for real estate developments is galactic: Pininfarina, LightArt, Greg Norman, Bulgari, Armani Casa, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Porsche, Roberto Cavalli, Kelly Hoppen, Jade Jagger, Pharrell Williams, Fendi, Mercedes, Bentley, Gianfranco Ferré, Tonino Lamborghini, Swarovski, Nobu, Missoni, Diesel, Baccarat. Luxury brands from other industries such as fashion, design or automotive.
Some examples such as Lamborghini and the development of 40 six-bedroom villas in Dubai Hills Estate by Emaar. Bentley Residences, in Miami, a residential building that will have more than 200 luxury apartments. Porsche Design Tower, Residences by Armani Casa, Karl Lagerfeld Villas Marbella, Fendi Château or EPIC furnished by Fendi Casa, or Roberto Cavalli, through the real estate developer Damac, which is planning a 70-story residential building located in the Dubai Marina, overlooking Palm Jumeirah, called Cavalli Tower. AYKON London One waterfront apartments by Versace.
I was working on the other side of the pond, but I had time to answer all your questions.
Linking your housing development to luxury brands is to position yourself in the same category as them.
In reality, what you are trying to convey as a builder is that your construction shares the same standards and qualities as those brands that accompany it. And since construction is really what is hidden to the naked eye, you need the visible to endorse and represent you.
The truth is that few construction or real estate companies or developers have invested in creating a powerful, admired or loved brand, so they need a co-branding to create that attraction, that seduction, that resonance.
When your brand needs another brand, your brand has a deficit to address.
A few years ago we developed the complete branding of two of the most important luxury towers in Australia and Peru, very different markets. And before starting both projects we asked ourselves: What is luxury? What do we understand today as luxury? Is luxury the product or the experience? Is it the services or the time? Is luxury the privacy or the show off? We assumed that there is a new dimension of luxury and that above all it betrayed from product-centric to experience-centric proposal. The success was devastating. Many brands have already taken it on board, creating new dimensions of luxury that go far beyond the tangible; and that the product is no longer more relevant than the person.
Buyers looking for a home are really looking for a new living experience..
Anyone who buys a home is really looking for an opportunity for change, not just a change of doorway. One projects and imagines in a new house, a renewed life, happy and with new air. And the brand is undoubtedly a fundamental bait when it comes to buying a new home.
Luxury is much more than a product.
The brand is a universe of experience that opens the door for many customers to be willing to pay more to live that experience, to belong to that brand territory. The brand is not an expense, it is an investment, and a great brand gets you to pay much more for a product similar to another.
Although some brands may be as good as others, we all know very well which are the luxury names.
And the new luxury conquers us all and even if we cannot access it, we are all seduced by it.
Normally, what does this consumer, the homebuyer, rely on when he sees the brand: his sensations or the possibility of having a life experience?
I think the buyer relies on a perception of the object that promises an enhanced life experience. Every purchase brings a vital sense of renewal.
Buying has become synonymous with feeling alive.
And also of belonging to something, called tribe, community, group. “I live here” is a statement of intent, an emotional reassurance of being in “the place” where many would like to live, but where you live. Exclusivity, aspiration, scarcity, that your self-esteem is elevated because you belong to that select “club”.
There are brands that need no introduction because they are already known and are synonymous with luxury, even if they do not have the best design or the most innovative technology on the market. These brands have a track record that gives them an advantage over an equal or even better product.
That’s the advantage of being a big brand, having the race won long before you start running.
There is a saying that goes “tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are”. Well, the same thing happens with brands. Hotel chains and homes seek to surround themselves with those brands that guarantee good company. Each hotel or building will choose the brands that will accompany it. And it will not always choose the typical luxury brands. Today there are many other possible options and identifications; some will seek to surround themselves with ecological, bio, sustainable, regional or innovative brands.
Not all audiences are looking for the same thing nowadays and knowing how to identify which audience you want to reach is key when associating your promotion or your hotel with specific brands.
Tell me how many luxury brands made in Spain in the hotel sector you know. The same in housing. Counted on the fingers of one hand. For them, we look for partnerships with brands that have invested a lot of time, resources and budget in building value, desire and reputation.
Today, brands represent much more than a product.
Today’s brands have an identity, defend certain values, are associated with specific causes and, in many cases, produce their products with environmental awareness.
Of course the customer is looking for a good, reliable product that fulfills its function, but also looks at the ideals and principles behind the brand and feels empathy or identification with it.
Today, the brand is no longer just the name on top of a product, but an identity in itself.
A washing machine or a vacuum cleaner are no longer things, but experiences; ways of cleaning, washing, drying, economizing, being sustainable, added to the trajectory of an entire company that endorses and is behind these experiences, and not only as a guarantee, but as an entity in itself, which has certain values.
The consumer’s relationship with objects has changed radically; priority is no longer given to the usefulness of the object in itself, but rather to what the object allows me to experience through its use.
It could be said that the object has become humanized and the human being has become objectified in some aspect. We are in many cases what we have, the marks we wear and those things, unfortunately, say more about us than we say about ourselves.