Choosing a Good Name for an Apartment Building
When it comes to multifamily real estate marketing, an often overlooked—but crucial—aspect is the name and brand of the apartment building or apartment community. In fact, more and more at COHN, we’re seeing the name and branding of a property start as an afterthought in the pre-construction process. And we hope to correct this with today’s enlightening blog.
You might wonder, what’s in a name? That which we call an apartment by any other name would still be as sweet (or some clever riff on Juliet’s famous soliloquy on names). Here’s our perspective: A well-thought-out name can make a significant impact on the marketing and advertising of your apartment building because strong brands are sticky.
In this blog, we’ll analyze the importance of choosing the right name, and offer comprehensive (and practical!) tips for naming an apartment building, and explore creative strategies to make your building stand out in the market.
The Importance of an Apartment Building’s Name
Ultimately, the quality, price, convenience, amenities, property team, and community-setting will probably matter more for leasing than your apartment’s name, but you shouldn’t overlook the overall branding of your community property. Your apartment building’s name is its first impression, and this is especially true in the world of real estate marketing.
Impact on Marketing and Advertising
Your name sets the tone for all marketing efforts. It’s the first thing potential tenants see or hear. A strong, memorable name can pique their interest and make them more likely to remember your building. It’s your calling card, so naming an apartment building isn’t a task to be taken lightly. It requires careful consideration and thought. Here are some tips and tricks from our multifamily marketing team here at COHN:
- Geographical Context
Your name will be prominently displayed on signage, websites, and promotional materials. It will be your sole social media handle. It will be how your residents communicate where they live. As such, we tell all our clients to consider the form and scale of the building – a name should match its identity. Pay attention to the geographical context to ensure it fits the location.
- Market Distinction
This should be obvious, but your building’s name should stand out and avoid confusion with nearby entities. Conduct thorough research and do what you can to be unique, not just for legal/copyright, but also for brand confusion.
- Target Market and Competition
Who is your target tenant/resident? Understanding your audience is crucial for choosing a name that resonates. Research the competition to ensure your name sets you apart.
- Nearby Communities
While it might seem convenient to name your building after a nearby town or landmark, it’s often a missed opportunity. A distinct name can help your building develop its own identity.
Time-Tested Naming Strategies for Apartments
COHN has completed more than 100 brand naming projects for communities, apartment complexes and other real estate brands. In fact, we keep a database of unused names that we’ve pitched to clients that is in the thousands. Creativity can go a long way in making your building memorable, but there are a few other “best practices” for names that create a distinctive name.
Pick a Name That Makes You S.M.I.L.E.
There is an acronym used in brand naming that is common among agencies like COHN. It’s the S.M.I.L.E. method and it stands for:
- Suggestive – evokes a positive brand experience
- Meaningful – your tenants/prospects will “get it”
- Imagery – visually evocative to aid in memory
- Legs – lends itself to a theme for extended mileage
- Emotional – resonates with your audience
Use this acronym to gut-check your apartment building name options. From there, you can narrow down the list of possible names by stakeholder approval groups.
Modify Your Selected Name To Get It Approved
Sometimes in the naming process, even if you have the exact right name for your apartments, you aren’t able secure the URL or even social media handles. This is when we encourage you to use one of our many (many!) apartment complex modifiers to help ground your name and make it more unique for digital properties.
Because we are so generous COHN, here is the long list of property modifiers we use when we are in a trademark or URL jam:
Apartments, Center, Collection, Collective, Court, Cove, Creek, Crossroads, District, Flats, Gardens, Gate, Green(s), Grove, Heights, Hill, Homes, House, Lofts, Meadow, Mountain, North/South/East/West, Oaks, Park, Parkway, Place, Plaza, Point(e), Residences, Ridge, Road, Row, Run, Sky, Station, Studios, Terraces, Towers, View, Village, Villas, or Vista.
Keep in mind that if you need to add a modifier in order to secure the URL (or satisfy scrupulous lawyers), this does not mean you have to prominently display the modifier in the logo or branding.
Portfolio of Brands or Branded Portfolio?
Many of our multifamily development clients have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of multifamily properties across the country. As a corporate brand that also must consider investors or capital markets, it can sometimes make sense to name and brand each of your properties alike. If the parent developer brand (national) is named Aegis Development Group, for example, then it can make sense to name individual properties (local) something like “Skyway by Aegis” or “The Aegis at Skyway.” This naming convention creates a branded house whereby all your properties in your portfolio follow similar naming rules. Sometimes, a corporate real estate brand will divide its portfolio into class types, with all luxury multi-family properties getting one name, and all affordable housing getting another. There are several other configurations for brand architecture in these larger portfolio scenarios.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when a Branded Portfolio vs. Portfolio of Brands makes sense in multifamily real estate marketing, but it’s clear that this strategy is only applicable for larger portfolios or owners/operators with a highly concentrated portfolio in a specific geography.
“Bad Names” For Your Property
If you’ve partnered with COHN to help you market your multifamily property, there’s a high likelihood that one of us will say the following: “There is no ‘perfect’ name for this project—but there are plenty of ‘perfectly bad’ names.” And that’s the honest-to-goodness truth. Above all else in naming your property, we want to avoid choosing a bad name – and there are PLENTY of those out there.
Here’s another handy dandy acronym (that we did not invent) called the S.C.R.A.T.C.H. test, which identifies the many ways a name can go wrong.
- Spelling-challenged – looks like a typo
- Copycat – similar to competitors’ names
- Restrictive – limits future growth
- Alienating – culturally insensitive, language concerns
- Tame – flat, uninspired
- Curse of Knowledge – will people “get it”
- Hard-to-pronounce – not obvious, unapproachable
Bringing Your Name to Life With Marketing
One of the reasons we often say there are no “perfect” names in branding is that the success of your property’s name will likely come down to how you bring it to life through marketing. Without marketing, Spotify would probably sound more like a stain spot-treatment solution. Microsoft would probably sound like a new microfiber used in clothing. Names mean nothing without marketing.
Choosing a good name for an apartment building is more than just a formality; it’s a strategic decision that can significantly impact your ability to lease up. We’ve worked with multifamily owners/operators across the country and are deeply experienced in marketing properties throughout the pre- and post-construction timelines. Give us a call, so we can help you accomplish your multifamily marketing goals.