By Amber Natale, President of Smarthinking Inc.
As we head into 2020, we see a more competitive landscape on the horizon for private communities. As you well know, private communities are not the only ones selling private community experiences anymore. Hotels and other formidable competitors are leveraging their power to offer exclusive and unforgettable “member” experiences. With more competition from competitors like these, as well as traditional private communities, your brand is now more critical than ever. And by brand, we don’t mean your logo and tagline. We mean, “Why you do, what you do, the way you do.”
Philosophically, we see brands as stories, and those stories are told through the customer experience. The customer experience encompasses many things. Ads, websites, collateral, personal interactions, physical structures, packaging…the list goes on ad infinitum. When working to develop your brand, we suggest starting by defining the brand strategy. The strategy is comprised of many components, but in the end, it will serve to answer these questions:
- Who Are You?
- What Do You Do?
- Why Does It Matter?
That last question is the one to focus heavily on. It is the crucial point of differentiation for your brand.
Building remarkable brands truly is a symphonic effort. If you go to hear any philharmonic and only the winds or the brass play, it never feels as emotive or impactful as if the entire orchestra were playing together. The same concept holds true with brands (or in life for that matter). The careful and meticulous planning of these details playing together creates the depth and richness of a given product or service. This then ultimately becomes the customer’s experience with the product or service. Does your staff understand the details of the programs that you are running and why they are special? Does your team understand why specific fonts, colors, and phrases are used consistently, while others are avoided at all costs? Do you have a set architectural standard that you follow for new projects, or is it what strikes you at the moment? Preeminent brands are fanatically focused on the story and its daily execution throughout every experience.
So knowing that information, what are you doing at your property to build a remarkable experience? How are you weaving an incredible story for your members? What structures are you building that break the mold of traditional club design? Are you teaching your staff how to bring the brand to life every day? What do your collateral materials do to differentiate you from your competitive set? We encourage you to find a secluded space where you will be uninterrupted for 60 – 90 minutes and investigate these questions. Be honest with yourself, and hold your efforts to the highest standards. In today’s competitive landscape, you cannot afford not to.
Be ready to work. You will develop a brand; the question is, will you define the final brand, or will the final brand define you? You will be creating all of the necessary components of your business: brochures and collateral, websites, physical spaces, products, staff, ads. Will you customize it to your vision, or will you simply develop what we call “stock”? You’ve seen it before, that completely forgettable brochure, that mildly offensive color scheme, the staff member who has no idea why they are truly there. You know…stock!
About Smarthinking Inc.
Smarthinking Inc. is an integrated brand development agency with a distinct focus on real estate and hospitality. Founded in 2006, the agency was created to solve business challenges through the creation of compelling stories that businesses tell every day in a variety of mediums. For a brand to be a viable success, the agency believes the brand message has to be strategically incorporated into every aspect of the operation. In order to truly differentiate each client’s product, Smarthinking follows the guiding principle of, THINK CRITICALLY, ACT CREATIVELY™. This has molded the agency’s reputation for delivering inventive and imaginative concepts. For more information, visit www.SmarthinkingInc.com or call 888.315.4056.