COMMENTARY

Neighborhood Branding

September 13, 2013 

The most powerful brands engender powerful emotions. They go far beyond the confines of their product dimensions. They create their own mind space. That is, they give you not just a physical product, but an emotional experience that engages your imagination and therefore defines the category.

We start with Attitudinal Segmentation. Identify, examine and understand patterns based on consumer values, motivations, and life stages through a knowledge of what really matters to people in their daily lives. In essence, who will buy, and why based on their hopes, aspirations, concerns point of view and outlook on life in order to focus precision targeting and messaging with greater relevance.

Research tells us that there is a new sense of community today that has consumers in active pursuit of connection, interaction and affiliation with other individuals to enable the sharing of ideas, opinions and passions. Consumers today are far less likely to sacrifice their core values and have strengthened their commitment to pursue their aspirations.

Warning: If you want your brand to stand for a little of everything, it will quickly amount to a lot of nothing. The notion that, “if you build it, they will come” is a thing of the past.

Five Key Questions that must be asked and answered:

1.) Who exactly is our target audience?

2.) What really motivates their behavior?

3.) What message will be most meaningful to them?

4.) Where can we find them?

5.) How can we reach them both efficiently & effectively?

In years’ past, neighborhoods were all about “retreat and self indulgence” during the McMansion era, time known for its relentless pursuit of achievement, celebrity and materialism. Those days are over. Today intangibles make all the difference; emotional and experience. Therefore the messaging needs to capture the fresh spirit of neighborhood as a place that energizes relationships and holds the promise of reshaping lives as residents move along the “life-stage” continuum. A neighborhood where residents will find people who share similar life experiences, interests and needs.

Several years ago research identified, by way of the Yankelovich Monitor, an emerging trend that was taking hold of today’s home buyers. This trend continues to grow and represents a critical determinant for Home and Neighborhood selection. “Hiving,” as the term implies, is not sealed off; it is part of the surrounding environment. A “hive” nourishes interaction and relationship building.

The same is true for neighborhoods. Research shows that the emotional touch-points are similar . They include; sense of community, sense of security, and sense of communal culture, just to name a few. All-in-all it represents a sense of place that allows individuals to celebrate those things they have in common with their neighbors while instilling a high level of pride and involvement.

And once again, it’s the baby-boomer generation that is leading the charge. Fifty-percent of all owner-occupied homes are owned by folks 55-plus and 30 percent of “boomers” own their homes free and clear. But one of the most important statistics is the 40 percent of “boomers” plan to move in the next 5-10 years.

Yours Truly,

James McKenna is the branding manager for the City of Lee’s Summit. Reach him at JMcKenna@lschamber.c om.

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