Building a Living Identity

Frost* Design on Branding

Brand development is a lot like building. It involves much stakeholder discussion, repeated site visits and a strategic assembly of parts, all designed to last for a very long time.

Property brand development has become a large part of the work at Frost*, and the team approaches these exciting projects with the mindset that they are creating more than just a logo. They are carving a whole new set of perceptions, about a whole new public asset, into the public mindset.

Think about what branding means. Branding was originally a visual symbol used to distinguish cattle, whiskey barrels and other seemingly alike goods. But it has become largely emotion-driven – it’s a set of perceptions or expectations that consumers have about a company or product. Strong brands have a long lifespan – Coca Cola, General Electric and Möet & Chandon, for example – and deliver consistently on their promise. They are powerful and unwavering, two qualities essential in the branding of new properties.

Buying a property off the plan takes both trust and imagination, to paraphrase Lisa McCutchion, the talented group marketing manager for Frost* client, Frasers Property Australia. Hard data such as rental projections provide part of this sales alchemy for potential buyers. Branding provides the other side, the emotional tone and context. It reinforces to the buyer that they are entering into a relationship that will turn out well for them. Branding, then, must span every aspect of the user experience, from basic brochures through to a content-rich website and stunningly professional point-of-sale environment.

How Property Branding Can Last the Distance

Longevity is what Frost* strives most to deliver when the team works on property branding, a far-reaching exercise that covers everything from the project’s positioning strategy to its brand values, name, logo, visual expression and marketing collateral.

Without robust brand positioning, you risk developing a hackneyed brand identity, something that people may not respond to. But when worked from the ground up, branding can identify key differences even between similar properties in similar areas, helping selling agents quickly reach the right market segment.

Take two recent Sydney developments as an example. Although different in scale, both are located on the CBD fringe just 2.5 km apart. Both are designed by high-profile architectural firms and both offer innovative green design elements such as loggias, louvers and vertical gardens by renowned botanist Patrick Blanc. Yet you can’t compare the messaging for Central Park and Trio.

For Frost*’s branding work on Sydney’s $2 billion Central Park, the team built a complete visual language around the property’s international and creative appeal. The site’s joint developers, Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House, had a strong vision and the job of Frost* was to connect their efforts to tell a compelling story.

The 2000-apartment site sits bang in the middle of the diverse, eclectic and creative hub that is Chippendale, with the University of Technology at one end and University of Sydney at the other. It was tempting to pursue a purely prestige direction, given the pedigreed architects involved – including the Pritzker prize-winning Jean Nouvel and Foster + Partners – and the daring of its futuristic residential and commercial theme.

But through extensive research and development with everyone involved, Frost* elected to fine-tune the messaging to convey the sense of a visionary global village instead.

That messaging extends from Central Park’s friendly and flexible logo and type, which can be applied to different colour schemes, to the art installations held on site during construction and the project’s engaging website, which has the look and feel of a community magazine. The branding was also applied to Central Park’s deluxe on-site sales pavilion, a crucial component of the sales process.

Most importantly, Central Park’s branding is a holistic symbol of what the developer, local residents, architect, interior designer, local council and even the site history say about the bigger picture.

That’s a big part of the ethos at Frost*. It is a highly consultative organisation, because it wants to enhance people’s lives by adding value and a genuine point of difference.

For another property, Trio in Camperdown, Frost* created a more fashion-forward brand identity. It’s an area of Sydney that attracts individuals who want to be on trend and are prepared to pay extra. Trio’s design is impressive and when you look at the major role that design plays in the community (Apple, anyone?), strong architecture is a big selling point.

The developer, again Frasers, intended the property to become the showpiece of the nearly completed City Quarter precinct. It has a richly nuanced façade incorporating sandstone, metallic louvers and copper roofs, and high-quality interior finishes throughout.

Prices for Trio’s 397 apartments were to start at 15 per cent higher than other similarly stylish properties at the precinct, and Frost*’s branding campaign helped Frasers achieve this sales objective. From the brand identity to the supporting print collateral, sales setting, website and Trio magazine, Frost* evoked a mood of high-end fashion and lifestyle that has carried across a sales campaign lasting several years.

Founder and Creative Director Vince Frost is proud of the role his team’s branding efforts have played in the high volume of sales at Central Park and Trio, and proud also that both projects have helped win Frasers an Urban Development Institute of Australia’s NSW marketing award. Trio won in 2009, and Central Park in August 2012. As always, it goes without saying that behind every great branding campaign is a great client. Collaboration between all parties is always going to drive the best results.

Why Australian Properties Need to Keep On Branding

Despite rumours of more economic instability ahead, the last census reported that the construction sector still employs more than 1 million Australians. It accounts for 7.7 per cent of the nation’s GDP. And Australia’s construction sector is expecting good revenue growth to 2013 – more than seven per cent in the commercial sector, and four per cent for apartments.

Those are impressive figures and confirm Vince’s own experience at Frost*, where environmental graphics form a growing part of clients’ work. Signage, information panels and interior features are becoming integral to property branding, and Frost* sees that as an ongoing area for opportunity.

Australia is vast, but the domestic market is small by international standards, and property developers need to work hard to differentiate. That rule applies not just to new projects, but to refurbished ones as well.

Eventually, even the most stunning buildings will need a refresh. They’ll have to incorporate new standards in greenness, and changes in lifestyle or work preferences. Or they’ll simply need some repairs. When that time comes, a strong branding campaign will again reach out to the target market.

When Central Park sold out its first-stage release of apartments, the visionary Chairman of Frasers Property Australia, Dr Stanley Quek, noted: “Repeat buyers of Frasers’ properties comprise a large percentage of our buyers, as well as referrals from happy purchasers.” The team at Frost* believes Dr Quek’s words ring true for all property developments, new and refurbished alike.

Repeat buyers trust a brand because of the consistency of its promise, and that is why Frost* delves so deep when developing a new brand identity.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 14, 2020, 11:18 AM AEST