I love the apartment syndication game. (I call it a game because I have so much fun day in and day out.) I love building relationships with brokers and investors. I love the chase of looking for good deals. I could go on and on. But one of my favorite things about what we do is getting to buy an asset—and then rebrand it.
As value-add investors, we are buying existing apartments 20- and 30-years old and looking to improve them. For us, that usually starts with a complete rebranding of the community. For me personally, it leverages my experience in the advertising world and allows me to flex my creative muscles. In this article, we’ll highlight the top 4 reasons we like to rebrand our assets.
Create a Fresh Start.
The best value-add opportunities are usually apartments that have issues. It could be poor management, lots of deferred maintenance or “d” all of the above. Issues lead to bad reviews and poor reputations–both online and in the local community. Rather than try and combat those and turn them around, by rebranding the asset we can walk away from any current baggage the existing name carries, and build a new reputation as we fix known issues and update the property. The old adage “out with the old and in with the new” applies here.
By creating a fresh start with a new brand, it also gives us permission to change the property. When you re-brand something you have created an expectation of coming change. Think about some real world examples. When you drive past a restaurant that has recently closed, and something new is coming in its place you see the “Grand Opening” signs and the construction. You know they are still going to serve food, but you don’t know what kind. You are curious to stop in and find out. You talk about the place with your neighbors and friends. There is an excitement and expectation about what is going in there, where previously stood a tired, worn out restaurant.
We’re doing the same thing at our apartments. When we start rolling out our vision and the property is crawling with contractors working on the property, residents understand we’re making the place better and get excited to see what the finished product will look like.
Signal That New Ownership Is Here.
When we close on and take over a property, we are ready with a new name and brand identity on Day 1 of operations. As soon as our management team is on-site, we are operating under a new name. This comes with temporary signage, “Under new management” banners, an updated website, business cards—the works.
In addition to walking away from bad reviews (mentioned above), these changes let current and future residents know that changes are coming. If a current resident is disgruntled, we can show them our plans and vision for improving the property. For future residents and the community at large, it builds anticipation that big things are coming and they should take a look at this previously disregarded property. One of the best ways to breathe new life info a property is announcing it has new management—that is energized, is excited and has big plans in store.
Tell A Story.
When people select and move into an apartment, they are picking a lifestyle. Based on the location, floor plans and amenities we offer, residents are opting-in to what we are selling. The brand plays a role in that, and the story we are creating with a new name and brand reinforces that story.
Our most recent acquisition is a great example. We bought a 1983 property that looked like a 1983 property, complete with the pink brick and original signage. It makes for a great business opportunity, but it needed a fresh start.
The street it sits on is named after a local businessman from the 1880’s, so we named our property after that man. We are building a story around it in our marketing materials, leasing center and overall style throughout the property. There are little Easter Eggs with his picture, items related to his businesses, etc. We are also painting the pink brick to update the look, and overall trying to create a new brand that fits with the city and location it resides, but that is also modern and updated. Above all else, rebranding an asset gives us a platform to tell a story about who we are as a community and what type of resident we want attract and retain.
Appeal To Your Target Demographic.
When you rebrand your property, it creates a blank slate and the chance to tell a story (as we’ve highlighted). With that blank slate you have the chance to appeal to a new target audience and invite them to your property.
Are you looking to attract Millennials? Then perhaps a bright color pallet, a blow-out pool area and a co-working space are the way to go. If your wanting more families, then fill in the second pool, add an awesome playground and create a nice bus stop location for kids waiting for the bus. Overall, create the vibe and brand that this community is quiet, safe and family-friendly. Whoever you are wanting to appeal to, the brand and story you create will help attract the right audience.
We love the creative process that goes into rebranding an apartment. But we also know its an important piece of executing our business plan and creating returns for our investors. That’s the definition of a win-win, and we’re excited to start the branding process on our next project.