Through the years, the homebuilding industry has undergone many changes that have provided both challenging and opportunistic times. Branding as a core facet of the homebuilding prominence has also undergone a tremendous revolution with many companies adopting varied ways of strengthening their brands. Website designing for example has provided a good platform where homebuilders can reinvent their branding strategies though even in the online means; opportunities still exist unexplored like branding through social media.
Branding in national home building corporations is essentially adopted to work for the company. In this manner, corporations can get a competitive advantage over each other when they build strong brands against their competitors. Branding is therefore to say the least, a core asset of the company (Aaker, 1996). Dilemmas however exist on the quantification of the value the brands play for the home building corporations. National home building corporations often live under the dilemma or ambiguity of whether the competitors are engaging their branding strategies better than they are or are their branding strategies working as best as they should (Aaker, 1996).
Evidence has been made of start up companies or even companies that live in Fortune’s top 500 companies that establishing a core brand can extensively quantify and optimize existing opportunities in branding. Research driven insights have in the past been identified as the best tools and techniques used to develop the best branding strategies in the home building industry (Balmer, 2001). These strategies have however been identified to be expressed through fresh communication mechanisms and developing fresher brand identities. Afterwards, the expectations of branding is usually expected to kick in through employees and clients living through the company’s branding experience through innovative and engaging programs.
Marketing scholars have identifies that after home building companies set up their branding strategies, the effort made in the planning process of developing the brand is as important as what happens after the brand is developed (Durbin, 1993). The bulk of the task in branding National home building companies exists in the management of the brand. This has been proved to be the most difficult task in branding for most companies anyway (Aaker, 1996). Leading Brand experts have however pointed out that most companies can get through this process if they treat brand management as a continuous process.
The core strategy areas in developing the best branding management strategies for the homebuilding industry exist in the development of leadership support which is a fundamental aspect in the provision of direction and control of the brand management process (Aaker, 1996). It also helps in infrastructure development and design of the best process tools in the market to align the branding strategy with the organizational objectives. Brand management should therefore enable a home building company to elevate the brand from a functional level to a level that provides a core focus of helping employees synchronize the brand into a behavior or culture in the organization. The same should be expected of its clients because the brand management is expected to make the brand synonymous with a given trait of excellence the management of a home building company is expected to achieve (Aaker, 1996).
Branding management may usually warrant home building companies to offer leadership coaching and undertake employee workshops especially when the company decides to adopt a fresh branding strategy (Aaker, 1996). Management and allocation of organizational resources is also an important managerial dimension to brand management. This will ensure brand strength is build year after year; in particular, the employees should be at the fore front in building this brand strength through their daily interactions with the customers (Aaker, 1996).
However, brand management in a national home building corporation is expected to be sophisticated to some level. The same cannot be expected for a regional home building company because its branding management strategies are expected to work in a more localized setting. Branding national home building companies should be aimed at curving a national outlook for a company. In other words, the branding management strategy should be able to appeal to the general client base on a national level. This therefore means the branding strategies should encompass the needs of every demographic facet like race, educational background, religion and the likes. The branding strategy should therefore attain an outlook of unprejudiced and non-affiliated branding strategy. Everyone should be able to relate to the branding strategy.
For any home building company, the branding impact will essentially be shaped by the actions of its employees (Aaker, 1996). It is therefore critical for any company to instill the best branding culture among the employees at all levels of the organization. This will ensure the branding strategy is essentially supported at all levels of the organization. Interactive online employee education, employee workshops and internal organizational forms of communication are some of the basic methods the organization can use to ensure it instill the best brand culture in the organization, strategically aligned with the brand success (Wadsworth, 1997).
Core Brand Centre
National home building companies essentially establish a brand building centre to adopt the best, cost-effective measures in the industry. These mechanisms are primarily aimed at enforcing the brand and identifying the brand strategy, practically at every level of brand communication, a fundamental aspect in creating and managing the best branding strategies (Aaker, 1996). In the past, homebuilding companies have essentially used the core brand centre as the best, single source of branding information news and guideline provision for the corporation.
Other corporations have also used the brand centre as a tool for decision making, provision of trademark information and provision of artistry tools for developing the brand in template form or any other method (Aaker, 1996). For instance, when a home builder’s client needs certain building materials, or a home building advertising agency needs approved works of art, or an international partner needs co-branding advice, the core brand centre will ensure the materials are delivered to the customer in a given timeframe, like 48 hours for example.
Brand Measurements Research and Analytics
Questions are bound to arise for a company or organization about what message the brand is communicating to the clients, what the brand means to the employees, whether the employees or the clients would give the same answers management would expect in answering these questions or whether the answers would be the same as the company’s. Most home building corporations therefore perceive branding assignment as a continuous process of brand intelligence (Aaker, 1996). Using proprietary analytics coupled with research techniques would therefore help these companies in comprehending the brands and the opportunities that exist in the market in regard to the branding strategy; such that, a blazing path of brand power can be attained (The Marketing Faculty of the Kellogg School of Management, 2005).
Research studies have pointed out that for home building corporations to optimize their brands, critical analysis of qualitative and quantitative research needs to be done (Aaker, 1996). This research should however be undertaken with the main aim of understanding the language of the home building market. Fundamental attributes and drivers that lead to the motivation of the clients should be identified in this research as well as how the company is fairing on with regard to existing competition from other home building companies (Aaker, 1996). However, with this measure of brand equity already in focus, the brand value also needs to be analyzed in an objective way with a primary focus on how it affects the company’s financial value. The brand impact is therefore best measured on revenue and the impact on the stock of the company (Aaker, 1996).
Brand experts prefer home building companies to set up separate divisions in the marketing department to benchmark the brand performance and act as a tracking division of the brand performance as well (Aaker, 1996). Nonetheless, this service can also be outsourced to brand management consultancy firms. Such companies would therefore use some of the most common branding systems in the home building industry such as the Corporate Branding Index (Linneman, 1997). Essentially these externally sourced companies or the extra division in the marketing department should use analytical tools that determine the impact of brand on the business performance. The same should also be focused on determining the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and their subsequent impact on the financial performance; also in terms of stock and revenue. As a result, the return on Investments (ROI) should be easily established in this manner (Aaker, 1996). Collectively, these actions should make brand awareness and preference of data an easy process to implement.
The key tools for measuring a home building company’s brand would include among the following: the brand power analysis which will essentially be used as a determinant of the brand quality and size in terms of the competition and performance of the brand as compared to its peers; the brand equity as a tool for determining the brand values, with special focus on its impact on revenue boost or expressed as a contribution to the market cap; brand return on investment model will essentially be used in determining the sensitivity of brand market cap or on revenue effects with controllable inputs being a determining factor (Aaker, 1996). It is therefore conclusive to note that measures centered on brand attributes in relation to brand equity, coupled with a special analysis on brand value can provide the necessary intelligence a home building company can use to measure the performance of its brand.
It is common business practice among national home building corporations that their brand strategies should be a gateway to propel the company into future success through provision of a clear map for the direction the company should follow (Aaker, 1996). This should however be done concisely and consistently. In terms of brand positioning, most companies, not only home building companies have been noted to have a problem in distilling the company’s essence to one summary statement. Nonetheless, it has been established that brand positioning for home building companies is the turning point for the brand (Keller, 1999). Based on the understanding of the white position in the market, brand positioning is essentially referred to as the position which a distinct home building company can only fill.
When talking about brand platform, home building companies have established that this is the forum where companies establish what their brands essentially stand for; such that the power it gives can be used to attain maximum productivity (Aaker, 1996). Primarily, it acts as a fundamental tool used by home building companies to comprehend employee behavior and analyze all brand communications. The brand platform would include the brand promise, statements of personality and key statements provided by the home building corporation. In other words, the brand promise defines what the corporation consistently does and how they intend to take a different approach in improving their brand strategies (Aaker, 1996). Brand personality on the other hand would essentially mean the comparison of how the brand is supposed to create an added dimension in the description of how the brand would perform in human terms (Hatch & Schultz, 2001). Key statements would also mean the facts given by the home building company to portray the fact that its brand promise can materialize. It is therefore critical to note that brand platforms essentially aid home building companies to create clear communication structures that are cohesive to ensure the brand portrays one message.
Brand Architecture and Extensions
This is part of the implementation process of the brand. Traditionally, national home building companies have associated brand architecture and brand extensions to co branding and licensing technicalities (Aaker, 1996). Thoughtful and logical development of brand extensions architecture helps in understanding national and global organizations. It also helps in clarifying how existing mergers in the real estate and home building industries are based on, including product ownership (Aaker, 1996). However, identifying important brand identifiers and existing brand relationships aid in building the best brand architectures for a home building company. Nevertheless, home building companies have a wide array of architecture models to choose from; only that they are faced with the dilemma of determining when to use which model for maximum profitability.
Brand architecture should therefore be aimed at increasing the brand clarity, its relevance to the company and leverage but at the same time suppress to the bare minimal the risks posed by the brand, its dilution and any possible confusions that may arise (Zurier, 2006). Branding licensing, important in product extensions is essentially crucial in creating leverage in branding equity. However, research studies done in real estate branding point out that brand licensing should not be aimed at brand profit making. In its place, the brand licensing strategy should be centered on improving the brand but at the same time, provide an extra brand revenue channel (Aaker, 1996).
Most often than not, brand strategies fail to live up to the expectations of the parent strategy that gave birth to it; though most home building companies would never admit to it (Aaker, 1996). From this analogy, it is therefore crucial to point out that the branding strategy needs to live up to its true function through its form. This will essentially work through brand synchrony. Brand communications for home building corporations mean the brand incorporates a number of functional areas like product and corporate brand naming, taglines, web design features, company logo design, message maps and communication templates. These factors also need to work for the true intention of brand development (Henshon, 2002).
Global names in the home building industry are not developed from thin air. Successful brand names are almost simultaneously derived from productive brainstorming and the science of registering trademarks (Aaker, 1996). Successful home building brand names are based on extensive research and inclusion of sound strategies to develop the most ferocious brand names in the home building industry. Determining the validity of brand names will therefore incorporate market feedback through name validity tools such as “Validiction name research” (Harris, 2001).
A home building brand needs to go beyond catchy graphic brands (Aaker, 1996). Brand experts have identified that for any home building company to have the best brand identity; their brand needs to go beyond trendy graphics to extensions of brand positioning and personality. It however needs to work across all departments of the corporation (Aaker, 1996). A successful and strong brand identity also needs to survive normal business morphing in the homebuilding industry such as acquisitions and divestitures. In essence, the brand identity should ensure that however the brand is portrayed; be it in websites, stationery, signs or billboards, it should communicate and support the comprehensive brand strategy while at the same time build equity in the brand itself. It is therefore important to note that it is not only enough for home building companies to look good at developing sound branding strategies but each element in its communication framework should express the brand and the strategy of the company. This should however be expressed through a good selection of colors and typography (Roulac, 2007).
It is an established fact that marketing communications supplements branding efforts in any home building company (Aaker, 1996). However, the design, copy and production should always be aligned with the brand standards across the best communication mix for both internal and external clients. Branding designs that are strategically driven are the fundamental difference between traditional branding techniques in the home building industry as compared to current techniques (Aaker, 1996). Moreover, it is the difference between internal corporate groups of the company and other branding consultants (Hahn, Litman, & Gurman, 2005). The combination of brand-sawy strategies and proven expertise in brand creativity is regarded by most brand experts as the basic elements to provide effective solutions to branding problems.
One of the basic elements in brand communication among home building corporations is through websites which act as a medium to which the company can interact with its clients. However, home building corporations have not effectively explored social media through popular online sites like tweeter or MySpace. Most companies argue that websites are equally effective but corporate trends, not only in the home building industry, pit social websites as an effective tool for enhancing or developing brands (Hahn et al, 2005). A company’s website is therefore a critical element that communicates a brand. This is however supplemented by employee intranet. Various factors nevertheless determine the effectiveness of online brand communication, among them is the ease of navigation, how the information has been organized hierarchically, and the ability of the site to be “sticky”. These factors all play out to the effectiveness of the online brand experience (both internally and externally). Conclusively, brand development has been observed to be used by home building companies through internet and intranet which conceptualize the brand personality through the functionality of design, its imagery and language.
Various branding strategies have been proved to turn around home building corporations in the past. For instance, National home building Corporation in Yugoslavia, a multidiscipline real estate global asset firm is one true attestation to the success of effective brand building to ensure corporate success. The company never had a corporate brand strategy it could use to characterize its business channels and at the same time, diverse its investment offerings (Aaker, 1996).
To remedy this dilemma, the corporation identified a compelling brand platform that was centered on some of the organization’s basic beliefs in genuine and optimistic values in the Yugoslavian home building industry. The company undertook a market research and identified that most of their clients wanted specific solutions tailored towards specific needs. To remedy the situation, the company undertook an establishment of different business channels but aligned along a common brand identity. This effort inspired various functional areas of the organization to synchronize their business process and corporate information. It resulted in their clients appreciating the common brand envisioning whenever they experienced the brand in either print, social, and advertising media. In the course of this undertaking, the company also rejuvenated its branding criteria where the business adopted a different name. This marked the refinement and optimization of the company’s signature in the home building industry and at the same time, improving its portfolio branding.
ACE Real Estate Company is another clear attestation to the importance of marketing communications in building brand strategies. With a market presence in over 45 countries across the globe, ACE had to retire its inches-think and binder that represented its existing guidelines to adopt more online communication access to standards and communication (Aaker, 1996). Through adoption of effective branding communication systems, ACE experienced a revamp of its financial standing. This was done through a review of existing materials related to the company and an analysis of its entire operations across its international market to come up with a proper analogy of the company situation. The guideline content and its stimulation were updated including the image library and the formulation of programs that were driven by decisions which were used for the design of logos and images.
Using the technology protocols already existent in the organization, the company improved its communications and established a brand centre to coordinate branding strategies. This shows the importance of the brand centre in coordinating brand strategies and the effective use of company information to further its cause of creating a formidable brand. This was evident through the analysis of technological protocols already existent in the company. This readjustment was also evident in the simplification of administration processes to both corporate and regional managers. It however provides more ground for the research of the extensiveness of brand strategy to various functional areas of the organization. Nonetheless, the adoption of branding strategies for such a global company is debated to have different structures as compared to a home building company operating in a smaller market (Domeisen, 2003). The success of the brand centre also led to the development of architectural strategies in developing design and functionality strategies. This was with regard to the development of their corporate strategies, external to the organization. However, ACE hadn’t included consumer services to this rejuvenating experience of branding the company.
Delphi, a national home building company in India also provides a good example of branding analysis for the homebuilding industry because it had been faced with the dilemma of coming up with the best branding techniques for its market expansion. The company settled for the reinvention of a comprehensive naming strategy that would be in line with its new quest to conquer extended markets (Aaker, 1996). This exposes the importance of aligning the branding strategy to the strategic long-term vision of the company (Preiholt & Hagg, 2006).
The company embarked on an approach to carry out a comprehensive audit plan of all its existing brand names in all the regions it operated from. Thereafter, a master plan architecture was unveiled to represent its designate markets. The company’s marketing department established a new brand that was easy to understand to offer clarification to its institutional clients of their services and at the same time maximize the productivity of their marketing campaigns while reducing the costs associated with it. From this analysis it is therefore important to note that branding initiatives should be backed up by simultaneous marketing companies especially for national home building companies because they cover a wide area. It would be useless rejuvenating a brand and not effectively making it known through marketing campaigns (Domeisen, 2003).
Branding for home building industries is a multi-faced process. However, a series of steps need to be followed to ensure the branding strategies achieve their desired objectives. This involves a follow up through brand management, brand communications, establishment of brand intelligence system and an establishment of branding strategies. The processes should however be systematic and relevant to organizational functions. Branding national home building corporations nonetheless needs to have an all inclusive branding criteria that encompass its entire target market (Domeisen, 2003). However, opportunities still remain unresolved on the existing opportunities in branding home building corporations such as branding through social media. The differentiation of branding strategies for various companies of different operational characteristics also remains a ground for further analysis.