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Starbucks or Costa? BMW or Mercedes? Zara or Primark?

Brand decisions dominate our lives as consumers. But how important is branding in selecting providers of commercial property or professional services?

Each and every brand represents a promise to the customer, and a brand’s reputation and longevity rests on its ability to consistently maintain that promise. Brands such as Land Securities and British Land are strong in the property world, but perhaps less well knownby corporate occupiers.

Yet property advisers and owners are increasingly aware that they share the same challenges as all service brands: to consistently deliver time after time after time, to every occupier or client at each point of contact.

Same all over

Whether the brand is encountered in Dublin, Dubai or Durham, customers expect the experience to be consistent. This promise can be broken down into key component parts, and successful service brands resolutely ensure that these are delivered.

For example, service brands have to consider the following:

  • the tangibles or the physical facilities – from the appearance of the Thai Airlines cabin staff to the freshness of the orchids
  • reliability – the ability of Pret A Manger to produce your latte or espresso in exactly the way you expect
  • responsiveness – the ability to react to a customer need, and willingly, is another key requirement. I shop at Waitrose not so much for value but largely because of the commitment from the staff to react to shoppers’ needs
  • assurance – the ability of staff to inspire trust among customers
  • and finally, empathy – the ability of the service provider to put themselves in the shoes of the individual customer, to understand their needs and then deliver caring service.

At this year’s Real Brands Conference, Harriet de Swiet, BUPA’s head of brand management spoke about how the healthcare provider trains its care home staff to deliver empathy. New staff are literally spoon fed lunch, and having been on the receiving end of this experience helps them to appreciate how their residents feel.

When the brand falls down on any one of these components, the promise to the customer is broken and trust can be difficult to restore.

For many years I have owned and enjoyed driving a BMW. The design and performance have lived up to the brand promise of ‘the ultimate driving machine’. However, a few months ago I booked my car into the local BMW dealer for its annual service and MOT.

The dealer put his organisation’s logistical requirements before mine and sent the car off for its MOT before repairing a faulty warning lamp. The result: an MOT failure. My first-ever frustration and the inconvenience mean I will think twice before buying another.

A property brand that delivers the five criteria outlined above will place itself at the top of a prospective occupier’s list and bring real and tangible benefits to the property owner, such as shorter voids and improved tenant retention. With this level of care, professional advisers can be sure to win and retain more clients.

Kingsley Lipsey Morgan and Property Week are proud to launch the Real Brands Poll to find out the most successful and fastest-emerging brands in the property industry.

When you log on to the Real Brands Poll web page to cast your votes, I should like you to think about those property brands that deliver consistent tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy.

Remember: true brands deliver, and here’s your chance to pick the best.