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Six Reasons to Brand Your Building Site

Graphic ROI, Marketing

You’ve just received your building permit, and preliminary drawings from your architect, and now it’s time to spread the word that your new development is coming to the neighborhood.

How will you attract the ideal tenant? The key is to create an experience that will bring them to you. Multi-faceted graphics generate awareness, encourage new leads, and make a positive community impact.  Don’t take my word for it. To illustrate the value and positive benefits, we were fortunate enough to collect insights from developers and local businesses who use them. Here are some reasons to use graphics to elevate your project above the competition.

Grand Plans to Grow Your Brand

How do you get your ideal tenant to picture the future of their organization in your space? You know how optimists see a glass half full? Your empty space is full of possibilities. Be sure to understand your buyer and their needs. Marketing centers help prospects share a story with stakeholders.

Six reasons to brand your building site 2 avison young logo december

It’s also important to making a strong first impression in the age of COVID. While visits are picking up, “there’s still significantly less tour activity,” says Andrew Fredricks, Director of Marketing at Avison Young. While some prospect tenants are digesting material digitally, Andrew says you don’t want to ignore the in-person experience. “Marketing centers provide ownership an opportunity to project thoughtfulness and competence by elegantly tying digital branding and marketing campaign efforts to the physical space.”

Six reasons to brand your building site 3 new quote andrew fredricks director of marketing 1

Paint a picture for your prospective tenant. Use vinyl wall graphics to highlight neighborhood amenities:

  • Parks within walking distance
  • Area watering holes and dining Pproximity to public transportation.
  • Graphics that show “top-floor window views” of their future neighborhood.

“If you are able to tell the property story and pre-market amenity centers before they are complete, it’s an amazing opportunity,” says Andrew.

Ideas To Try

• Wrap columns with graphics that portray scenes of office collaboration and teambuilding.
• Find a local photographer to snap photos of the neighborhood and add to imagery.
• Install colorful floor decals that guide prospects to tour the entire space.
• Show how your location is the perfect place for their organization to grow.

From Digital to Your Door

You also should consider the buyers journey from a virtual tour view to your front door.

Six reasons to brand your building site 4 draper and kramer logo

James Love is the Vice President of Marketing, at Draper and Kramer, with over 15 years’ experience in the real estate and finance industries.

“Graphics and signage are so important for new developments. Yes, we’re all on phones, living in a digital space, but people are still out in the world,” he says. “With so much construction and daily life distraction, the experience from the phone to the space has to be as seamless as possible.”

Signage should mirror the website experience, items such as color schemes and fonts, to avoid hiccups in the customer experience. “When there is a disparity – it can affect the marketing funnel.” says Jim.

Once the prospect arrives, graphics connect the dots.

“High-profile, quick moving prospects need to know they are in the right spot,” insists Jim. “Especially in a city like Chicago. You want zero confusion.”

It saves the prospect time so they can focus on moving forward with a decision. They are there to get questions answered:

  • What’s the neighborhood vibe?
  • How do I feel walking down the street?
  • How close it the train?

Lease Commitments from New Clients

Let’s touch on what most folks think about when permits get issued and the ground breaks: clients & revenue. Outdoor building signs can generate thousands of views that get prospects to inquire.

“Branded signage absolutely generates inbound leads, emails, and calls,” says Jim. “Covid did make an impact, but foot traffic has picked up. You do see more walk-in traffic to properties from banners and locators.”

Six reasons to brand your building site 5 james love draper and kramer quote

Share the journey to the finished product with signs, fence banners, and exterior building graphics. A multi-faceted installation helps you “own the sidewalk” and build good will in the community. Everyone is excited when their neighborhood adds value to their own property. If you intend to have retail space on the first floor, splash storefront window graphics that showcase amenities. These can be temporary and swapped out as leases are secured. Sidewalk scaffolds provide safety and space to advertise opening dates.

Six reasons to brand your building site 6 leasing banners draper and kramer

Try additional CTA’s (calls-to-action) that get people on your lead list too. For example, is there a fence around your construction site? This is basically a dedicated billboard to brand the heck out of your project. So, add your logo, coming soon messaging, and drop in a QR code. “QR” is an acronym for “quick response,” and if you are thinking: didn’t those go the way of the Blackberry and flip phone? Not so fast.

QR code adoption is on the rise since the Covid pandemic as they prevent contact and are easy to scan. The New York Times covered this phenomenon a couple of months ago. Here is a way to try them: get more email newsletter subscribers or drive website visitors. When scanned with a mobile phone, QR codes can directs consumers to any destination on the web. Shopify and Printelf offer free QR code generators which take less than 60 seconds to set up.

Six reasons to brand your building site 7 qr code example see latest projects

QR Code Generated with PrintElf – Scan to see our latest projects

Draper and Kramer use them to foster engagement. “They encourage people on their devices to interact with our messaging.” Draper and Kramer also keep tabs on the metrics. As they continue to grow and market, the plan is to have each property landing page incorporate a UTM code. So as a prospect scans the QR code, activity is recorded in Google Analytics. “This helps us track the value of each sign.”

Key Takeaway: Incorporate fence wraps and banners to transform your location into a 24/7 advertising engine to generate leads and new tenants.

Promote Your Tenants

No one likes a telemarketer so we understand If there is concern building wraps might send cold calls your way. How about installing graphics that promote the businesses that have decided to sign leases?

Torque commercial real estate marketing logo

Even if you are 12-to-18 months ahead of the final buildout, it is prime time for your tenants to grow their subscriber base. With the advent of social media platforms, it is never too early to promote. For example, a potential retailer can discuss brands they will carry on Twitter and Facebook prior to the grand opening. Graphics help your tenants earn loyal followers’ months before the doors open. And generate excitement.

“Let’s say we have a building with a large renovation – wood barriers are going up, tenants are dealing with noise, and being redirected a little bit,” explains Jen Masi, Principal at Torque. “Graphic renderings on these barriers get tenants excited. You can create life- size experiences so people can get a sense of what’s on the horizon.” Show them there will be café or shared amenities.

“You really are painting a picture,” says Jen. “Showcase what’s to come so construction or noise becomes an afterthought.

It is also puts you a different playing field. “This is so important right now. People are debating if there are better buildings and locations out there,” says Jen. “Get tenants excited to stay. Find out what they love so they don’t seek greener pastures.” Companies choose buildings for the employee experience.

Six reasons to brand your building site 8 jennifer masi torque

Tenants will appreciate the advertising and potentially refer you new opportunities as you develop properties in other parts of town.

Key Takeaway: Pay it forward to help your tenants generate awareness. This will lead to new business for you and them.

Like a Good Neighbor

Most people love to see new development in their community. It brings money, attention, and an influx of energy. When it comes to your design and message, you are not limited to listing only your contact information. It also sends a positive message to the larger community. Erin Venable is the assistant director of communication at University of Chicago.

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“Arts + Public Life (APL) recognizes the power of visual storytelling through graphic design to share positive messages and artist works in the community that reflect the values and mission of our organization.” she says.

Six reasons to brand your building site 10 erin venable assistant director of communications

Their team also uses vinyl window wraps to promote events and important days on the calendar. For example, their Arts Incubator Gallery windows have been used as a canvas for not only exhibition-related messaging but also for street-facing social messages to “create awareness and celebration of events like Juneteenth.”

Six reasons to brand your building site 11 arts block signage front view

Graphics present opportunities to support local artists with a pulse on the community. Have you considered the unique perspective they can bring to your project? Arts + Public Life recently unveiled a banner campaign, using temporary six feet high construction fence banners surrounding the future site of the Arts Lawn as a canvas.

Erin says the approach was three-fold:

☑ Use banners as a canvas to create a paid artist opportunity for a South Side/Washington Park artist to present original artwork on Garfield Blvd

☑ Communicate via language and compelling images & important details on the Arts Lawn project (what it is, who it is for, when it is coming, plus secondary messaging around APL and applicable Arts Block/Arts Lawn partners (how to learn more, what we do, how to connect/social/web)

☑ Present a South Side Home Movie Project (APL’s sister organization) installation of film stills from the home movie archive, based around the theme of “affirming the history and cultural importance of activity and leisure at accessible public outdoor spaces on the South Side.”

Six reasons to brand your building site 12 southside home movie project banners

Once graphics are up, organize a photo shoot with business owners and residents. Contact a community newspaper such as Block Club Chicago and see if they will write about it. Graphics can create public relations opportunities to raise your profile. And of course encourage interaction. QR codes can really play a role. Arts and Public Life continue to experience success with this strategy across banner and window graphic designs.

For their South Side Home Movie Project (SSHMP) installation “what love looks like in public,” QR codes allow visitors to easily scan and listen to a DJ-curated music soundtrack. This creates an enhanced experience as the visitor walks and views the installation stills. QR codes also direct pedestrians to a comprehensive webpage, that shares all the information on the banners (works of art, photography, Arts Lawn information, and the SSHMP installation. Click here: https://artsandpubliclife.org/artslawn or the image to see the site built for the campaign

Six reasons to brand your building site 13 arts lawn screenshot one

QR codes send pedestrians to an Arts Lawn Preview Website

The intersection of digital experiences with wide format printing continue to evolve.

Key Takeaway: You do not have to take the traditional route. Unique graphics engage the community to welcome your concept and embrace what you have to offer.

Major Part of Marketing Plans

The Rule of Seven States a consumer needs to see your brand at least seven times before they make a purchase. Why do people shell out thousands of dollars to have their brand message tower high above an interstate? The potential to reach thousands to tens of thousands of consumers. Despite out of home advertising spending declining a bit during the height of the pandemic, it is on the rebound.

So, it pays to market your property on websites such as LoopNet. You should consider bidding on keywords to get yourself to the top of search engines. These are also pieces of a larger marketing plan. Think of banners and graphics as another aspect of your outreach. Back to Jen Masi of Torque.

“It really elevates neighborhood awareness, to show people what’s going on, and bring energy to a community,” says Jen. “Visuals show how the building project will connect with the neighborhood – just as the first shovel hits the ground. It’s a critical part of marketing efforts.” Also consider opportunities to incorporate causes or culture you believe in.

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To support creatives with developmental challenges, Torque helped bring an arts space to life at The Franklin. In partnership with Tishman Speyer and Arts of Life, a local destination was born.

“We reproduce work from these amazing artists, there is a cool, welcoming graphics install inside the space, and the public can come in for two hours during lunch,” says Jen. Word spread through social media. Tenants started to refer to it as the “Arts Space.” Residents began to visit. “Why just have another empty space in loop?” says Jen.

Activate the space and connect with your neighborhood through marketing that makes real human-to-human connections.

Key Takeaway: Treat graphics as a cog in your overall marketing plan. They should complement efforts such as digital advertising or email newsletters. Don’t hesitate to advertise your newly signed retail tenant is “Coming Soon”. There is no greater gift you your clients than helping them get more clients too.

The Right Direction
You’ve marketed your property and attracted tenants. Don’t stop there! Chances are you have invested in a building identity, complete with a style guide and logo. Weave your branding throughout the building. This can be in the form of wayfinding graphics in stairwells and hallways. Are their public spaces? Be sure you have installed  signage that is ADA compliant signage in all the appropriate spaces.

What’s Next?
Let’s create a graphics experience to grow your business and attract new customers. We can help you with a turnkey branding package for everything as you open the doors.

Jon Davis

Jon Davis is Cushing’s Marketing Manager. From blogging to online communications, Jon writes about client developments, environmental branding, and much more. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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