Rebranding through real estate can deliver a better customer experience

Learn how leveraging your commercial real estate can be used to express your brand's image

Traditionally, companies who are looking to rebrand have relied on new marketing direction and messaging, often broadcasting a new advertising campaign with the aim of repositioning the company to be more competitive in the market. This path is well-trodden for companies with lagging sales who are facing pressure to restructure.

However, a growing number of companies are using their brick-and-mortar spaces as a vehicle to send new, revamped messages. This kind of “proactive brand redevelopment” can be undertaken long before a company is in “dire straits,” and it gives brands an edge in “the increasingly cutthroat retail sphere,” says Ramez Toubassy, President of Brands at Gordon Brothers, the global advisory, restructuring and investment firm.

Those of us who work closely with brands agree that in a much more convenient, online world, the experience a consumer has is paramount. Below are several key ways that commercial real estate can be used to express a brand's image and convey an idea of value to the consumer.

Restructure space to better serve your customer

Take our client ALDI. The German-based value-oriented grocer took a sizable market share in the American grocery market during the recession, and the forward-looking brand wanted to proactively maintain and even grow that share. Instead of solely changing their messaging, we brought in experts to revamp their stores and deliver an updated message to their shoppers, prioritizing their fresh produce and high-quality foods by bringing those products to the front. Focusing on freshness and quality allows the consumer to intuitively focus on ALDI’s best assets, the ones most relevant to modern consumer needs.

Think outside the box to create a sense of place outside of your traditional business line

You want every aspect of your brand’s in-person experience to be intuitive, seamless, and exceed expectations. Companies are beginning to expand that idea into new real estate ventures that create more ways to deliver a positive experience to the various audiences they serve.

Take American Express, which moved into the airport lounge market, typically occupied by airline carriers, to control the totality of their brand and the card members experience of it. The company’s Centurion Lounges, which we designed, offer an elevated food experience, semi-private workspaces and other amenities card members need to relax between flights. Special design touches provide the cache of an “epic moment” that is so sought-after in our social media age.

Bring that mindset home

Focusing on the interpersonal experience of the consumer — from the ease of the interaction with the space to the pleasant sense of the brand the consumer should leave with — means that the brand’s employees need to be encouraged to have a positive experience, too. Real estate comes into play here, as well, through the design and functionality of the corporate headquarters to the spaces within the brand’s retail stores that are dedicated to the employees.

If you’re making a promise to the consumer that their experience will be positive, the company has to live it every day. It’s all one brand. Becoming increasingly aware of the impact spaces have on employees’ happiness, from natural light to comfortable spaces that cultivate work culture and productivity, goes a long way in extending that pleasant experience to your customer.

Aaron Spiess is Executive Vice President, Managing Director at Big Red Rooster. He can be reached at 

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