It is possible for you to improve your senior living brand in the local market place.
A strong brand is critical in driving your senior living community’s long term success. The brand is much more than a logo–it is all of the mental associations that surface when people think about your community. It is the means by which your senior living community or your family of communities stand apart from the competition in people’s minds. According to international branding agency, Millward Brown Optimor, “Strong brands have the power to create business value. They impact much more than revenues and profit margins. Strong brands create competitive advantages by commanding a price premium and decrease the cost of entry into new markets and categories. They reduce business risk and help attract and retain talented staff.” Here are 3 important steps you can take to ensure that your senior living community’s brand is meaningful, effective and compelling to your target market.
1. Get objective feedback. Your brand rests in the minds of the consumer. It is owned by the public, the target market, your vendors and anyone else that comes into contact with your branding touch points. As developers, owners and operators, we may think we have a grasp on the brand idea–but the only way to know for certain is to ask the real owners of the brand.
- Pursue feedback from a sampling of interviewees such as seniors, family members, service providers and staff.
- Look for a consensus in the feedback that tells you what the single most differentiating factor is between your senior living community and that of your competition.
- The consistently reoccurring theme in their responses is the brand idea.
- Use this brand idea to connect with your audience on an emotional level and to anchor all of your branding and marketing efforts.
2. Your community’s name may be costing you sales. The power of an effective name cannot be underplayed. There are two main areas to consider when evaluating its effectiveness: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Uniqueness. In Google’s eyes, these two factors are inseparable.
- Do people have to wade through pages of non-relevant content or competitor’s listings to find your senior living community?
- Is the name unique or does it compete with a broad search term?
- If your community’s name has the word “Springs” or “Meadows” in it, chances are it’s positioned as a commodity brand. Unless of course, it really does sit on a bubbling spring or in an open meadow.
In 2010, we worked with the branding agency, Studio Absolute, to rebrand as Lenity Architecture after a change in the firm’s ownership. We chose the word “Lenity” because it literally means the quality of kindness and gentleness–a defining characteristic of our brand. It is also an uncommon word which allows us to easily rank on Google. Had we named the firm, “Senior Housing Solutions”, we would have been up against a broad search term–not to mention communicating a murky brand idea. Consider how your audience searches for senior living communities when they are looking for a place for mom. They are looking for two things: Emotional reassurance and a specific geographic region–so make it easy for them, and for Google, by communicating both in your community’s name.
3. Be deliberate about branding. Branding is the purposeful way in which the brand idea reaches the market. It is realized in branding touch points such as the logo, your online presence, advertising, collateral; culture–even your senior living community’s architecture. Your community’s branding directly impacts how people subconsciously perceive your level of professionalism, price point, safety and reliability.
- Professionally designed and executed collateral tells an entirely different story than a hastily produced brochure out of MS Publisher.
- Well designed branding sends the subtle messages: We return phone calls. We’ll provide you and your family personal attention. We respect your intelligence.
- Hiring a professional photographer and branding agency is a significant investment but the payoff is immeasurable.
Your website is of particular importance because it is often the first impression people have of your community. If the website design is over 3-5 years old, you risk sending the message that your community is also outdated. If it is part of a larger site that features multiple locations under the parent brand, be sure to make your content relevant to your audience. Ask families that have used the site what their experience was and if they were able to easily find what they were looking for. Once your brand’s look and feel has been established, marketing efforts become increasingly less time consuming and considerably more cost effective. You will find that you can spend less time marketing and more time doing what you do best–serving the needs of your community’s seniors. If you like this article it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE.