No Place Like Home: 3 Key Considerations for Branded Residence Strategy
The idea of ‘home’ is still in flux following the pandemic and the subsequent shift to hybrid lifestyles. Now spending more time in our own spaces, needs have inevitably shifted towards more spacious, personalised accommodation that can separately house the various lifestyle threads of work, meet, chill and play. In response, branded residences have taken to the floor.
Laying Out The Landscape
Branded residences aren’t a new concept, the first ‘official’ iteration being The Sherry-Netherland in Manhattan, opened in 1927, according to world-leading agency Knight Frank. Since then, the number of schemes has grown north of 640, accounting for nearly 100,000 units as of October 2022.
Fairmont, Four Seasons, Aman and St Regis (now Marriott International) are among the sector’s pioneers as the trend has accelerated. Many have or are investing in teams solely dedicated to this stream of business.
And it’s not just hospitality brands taking to the playing field. The sector is seeing some diversification, the majority of which is coming from automotive marques with a sprinkling of names in fine jewellery and high fashion.
One of the first on the scene was Porsche with their Miami Design Tower opening in 2017. Italian fashion house Armani joined the oceanfront too with their 56-story condominium tower Casa Residences. Aston Martin is also building in Florida’s coastal metropolis, with completion scheduled for early this year.
Back in London, deluxe skyscraper DAMAC Tower in Nine Elms is complete with interiors designed by Versace. Tonino Lamborghini have announced an impressive portfolio of branded properties across multiple continents and Bentley are developing a 61-story apartment complex, all with access to a car elevator, for 2026.
The benefits are manifold:
- For hospitality brands, it’s a fruitful way to expand their portfolio and tap into new revenue streams
- For developers, funds are easier to secure due to a fairly immediate ROI and the promise of an enduring cash flow
- For non-hospitality names, it’s an opportunity to diversify their business model, simultaneously igniting a sense of awe and bolstering PR
With everything to gain, it’s worth a second thought for luxury brands wanting to add prominent postcodes to their portfolio.
Branded Belonging & Lifestyles
One of humanity’s central tenets, belonging is a sense difficult to foster fully by brands. But if branded residences are to succeed as homes, either as primary dwellings, urban escapes or getaway retreats, belonging is something brands need to master.
Powered by the surge in hybrid living, branded residences are often second homes — the luxury of which should only magnify the comfort that comes with your own space.
People want to plug into a certain type of lifestyle, perhaps one that is dictated by destination, and be able to dip in and out as they please — fully trusting property managers and concierges to take care of everything, always. Home without any of the admin.
Acting as lifestyle portals is important for luxury brands across every sector, these choices inform our identity as reassurances of self and a signal to others of who we are, what we value and so on. We want to exist among like-minded individuals, evidenced by the tribal turn brand audiences are taking.
Branded residences have to create this sense of membership, incorporating exclusivity as well as shared value systems and identity. They need to go beyond status symbols (now only discreetly coveted by the HNW) and instead become embodiments of a particular lifestyle, one the brand encapsulates while the residence facilitates.
3 Key Considerations To Build Your Branded Residence Strategy
So much of branding is about defining a strategy that creates perceived value above and beyond the product: a value that can stand the test of time, hold meaning and recreate a specific feeling for years to come.
Methods to get to that point vary depending on brand, vertical and time, but for brands considering entering the space, our strategists narrowed down three considerations when it comes to cultivating value and stepping into the space.
1. Names Can Only Do So Much
In luxury especially, the brand name is undoubtedly vital. But it’s not a cover-all. Among younger generations, where brand loyalty is lower than ever, a name — heritage brand or not — isn’t going to cut it.
Branding needs to be felt. In the experience, in the service culture, in every touch point. When it comes to branded residences, these properties will immediately take on the perceived value, reputation and impressions associated with the marque. All of which will then be built upon based on resident experience.
Timeless brands don’t rely on their name, they reiterate their experience to reflect client needs to create sustained value.
They imbue meaning, foster connection.
There’s a big difference, though, in the significance of a name when it comes to destination. In cities like London/Paris/New York/Dubai where branded residences are either fully integrated within established hotels or standalone properties which are overseen by the brand, names — while still significant — matter less.
In less developed parts of the world, where governments, brands and other groups are set on creating a new destination to attract the U/HNW, names matter more.
In places like KSA’s Diriyah region, placemaking and destination design projects are well underway. Wadi Safar — a landmark development designed for the region’s most influential — blends commercial and (invitation-only) residential real estate, with iconic names like Aman and Four Seasons elevating the desert destination’s appeal among ultra-affluent audiences.
When it comes to ‘new’ locations, placemaking philosophy and processes are the priority, but brands can be a driving force. Branded residences in these kinds of developments, especially from widely-known and well-loved icons, could be the differentiator between die-hard communities and dwindling interest.
2. Capturing The Essence of Place
There’s a baseline point to be made when it comes to branded residences: these properties are nine times out of ten located on prime real estate. Not only, then, are they lucrative — ensuring a more than suitable investment for buyers — they gel with the lifestyle and attitudes of the U/HNW.
While the U/HNWI is not one person, the power of place carries weight among them. Curiosity, freedom and enlightenment are emerging drivers of luxury purchases, especially within younger cohorts.
To leverage all three, brands must attach themselves to a particular truth — either cultural, historical, regional or all three. Weave it into the fabric of your brand to be felt by residents and visitors. Make it a credible part of your story.
Opening in Q1 of this year, Raffles’ new branded residence — in partnership with Westminster Development Services and the agencies they work with — is nestled within the halls of one of British history’s most iconic buildings, The Old War Office (OWO).
“Set in the heart of Whitehall, opposite the Horse Guards building and a stone’s throw away from St James Park, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, every heritage room in The OWO has been preserved as part of a luxurious transformation, which incorporates 85 private apartments and a luxury hotel under one roof.” — Knight Frank Report, MOF Client
Designed to honour our collective past, its truth lies in the importance of history and a combination of luxury, convenience and old-world charm.
Finding meaning in location is important. Luxury branded residences will compel prospects with intriguing propositions and pre-established loyalty, but what will compel them to stay is place.
Make your branded residence the gateway: to a destination, a culture or into history.
3. Make It Make Sense
If putting your name to property doesn’t add experiential value or rep your core spirit or if it will tip the carefully balanced brand–conversion scales in either direction, it’s not an avenue to go down.
Doubtful headlines and dubious comments have already come for the non-hospitality brands taking steps in this space.
Luxury jeweller & timepiece company Jacob & Co announced their branded residence project late last year in partnership with Dubai-based developer Binghatti. Architecturally inspired by the brand’s jewellery, the diamond-lit tower will feature suites and penthouse apartments named after Jacob & Co’s flagship timepieces. And unsurprisingly the amenities leave little to be desired.
Yet, without the service element innate in hospitality’s DNA, fashion and automotive branded residences come in at a disadvantage.
Yes they have the potential to become “a theatre of dreams; a temple to the brand at which the consumer can come and worship,” according to luxury branding expert Piers Schmidt, but if they can’t deliver the service component the loyalty will gradually fizzle out.
Is the ‘theatre of dreams’ better as the ultimate flagship store or brand fanatic behind-the-scenes exhibition? Choose wisely.
Branded residences provide solid ground for brand building, adding another beam to the structure of your business.
From plot to penthouse, the scope for innovation is sky-high and as long as it enhances brand experience.
When we work with clients, we map their end-to-end CX for a few reasons:
- To ensure a balance of brand and conversion — because it’s boring creating ideas that don’t work
- To identify opportunities for innovation; spaces within which genuine value can be added to the experience
- To imbue lacking touch points with the spirit of the brand, weaving that thread through the entire customer journey
We pride ourselves on helping ambitious category-leading brands to innovate without gimmick. Branded residences are an interesting opportunity to flex strong positionings and ultimately, become more ‘lifestyle’ oriented.
We’re excited to see developments from brands across all sectors, and how they tackle the challenges involved.
If you’re already thinking about foundations, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org and chat to one of our consultants on how MOF can set you apart.