We’ve all had times where we go in with one understanding of a product and after experiencing it further – we completely change our minds. This recently happened to me and got me thinking more about what creates our perception of brands. Enjoy!
context is where brand perception starts
Consider a new residential community that recently opened in Orange County. It is called Lambert Ranch, located in Irvine and developed by The New Home Company.
From those two sentences, the established brands of Orange County and Irvine (if you are familiar with Southern California) are influencing what you think about Lambert Ranch. The New Home Company is a newer brand and unless you know the “who” behind the company, the first impression may be that they create generic and perhaps even pre-fab houses. This may form the initial context of the Lambert Ranch brand for many people.
Now, let’s add in what people have been saying about Lambert Ranch. A little time on Google and there is not that much there. A few press releases, a bit of bashing on some housing forums, social networks are rather quiet and the website a touch generic. So that area of influence was rather un-influential.
The Marketing. Most of the outreach effort for Lambert Ranch focused on public relations and email communication. Then there is the banner on the property…right next door to competitor Portola Springs. The homebuilder wisely used tracking URLs in their efforts and I would bet this banner diverted more than a few would-be Portola buyers to wait for Lambert Ranch.
The number of homebuyers visiting Lambert Ranch that grand opening weekend was about 3,000. The New Home Company sold out of their first phases and the activity continues strongly as of the time of this post. So that worked.
experience clarifies perception
I had just left Lambert Ranch which had its official grand opening the weekend before and was absolutely “blown away” by my experience.
“Why did I love that place so much?”
“Because you were expecting another Irvine subdivision” replied a colleague. She was right. From my online sleuthing, I just wasn’t excited to see this community. It felt like another Irvine new home neighborhood opening. Nice entry. Nice Parks. Nice Pool. Nice Homes and somewhat small yards…again.
It is hard to describe experiences as you feel them and they are personal. So some pictures (with MORE on Pinterest)…
Lambert Ranch feels like character – but not the type an architect, landscape architect or nature achieves alone. It’s the sum of the nuances that make the total.
Details like –
...the quiet hum, excitement and freedom of people exploring as they felt they wanted to. Explorations of backyards, balconies, side door entries are all encouraged. Trap-fencing has been banished and replaced with hedges that let you escape as you like.
The Result : This place feels like a neighborhood in an older city – but everything is new.
I’ve been hearing Irvine described as ‘cosmopolitan’ for awhile, but never felt it. Irvine has a very strong brand for me and ‘cosmopolitan’ wasn’t it.
At Lambert Ranch, to hear the different inflection in the voices wandering quietly through the homes and along the streets feels worldly. At one point a man paused unexpectantly in a doorway as his friend called out to him one last detail in a language that I couldn’t quite place. When startled by the traffic jam he was causing, he quickly apologized in a local’s English. It was inspiring how he balanced two cultures so gracefully. Cosmopolitan Irvine? Yes.
delivery builds brand perception & equity
Upon driving out of this place, the brand of ‘Irvine’ and ‘The New Home Company‘ was changed for me. However, the brand of ‘Lambert Ranch‘ had taken a dramatic 180° turn in my mind.
The developer had delivered a story that was much more than another subdivision in Irvine. The story of Lambert Ranch is a story of design. The passion and care to pursue it and the love so many people have for it. It’s similar to the brand of Target, but with homes beginning in the $900,000s – it is obviously not for everyone.
Key Point: What you tell people via advertising may set an initial brand expectation. However, ‘who you are & what you do’ creates sustainable brand perception. Faced with a budget constraint, invest in being great over ‘telling people how great you are’.
FINAL THOUGHT: With 21 homes reserved, the first two phases of Lambert Ranch are sold out. They will be releasing 15 more homes very soon. I asked the sales people, if they believe they have already met the people who will purchase this next release. The answer was the same for all -a quiet smile and polite “yes we have an interest list that’s rather long”.
Beyond Worth a Visit: Lambert Ranch
More interior & exterior images (that are not as good as a real life visit) – are on Pinterest here. Your thoughts are always appreciated, or let’s connect over on Twitter at @HollyHM2. Until next time…feel free to share and best wishes.
DISCLAIMER: I work in the building industry, but have never worked with The New Home Company or Lambert Ranch in any way. This post was not solicited and simply candid observations.