When words are not enough

The effectiveness of brand design in the high end property sphere

Post 14.03.16


“it’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to”



Anyone living in Central London can’t fail to be aware of the huge volume of high end schemes currently being developed, marketed and built in the heart of the capital. Areas like Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge are undoubtedly core ‘super prime’ locations with prices per square foot reaching in excess of £7,000. These areas of London seem to have unlimited budgets when comes to architecture and interior design considerations for new schemes. So how do you communicate not only the exclusivity but also the uniqueness of your development when all the usual words are so overused?

A decade ago it was “boutique” and now everything is “luxury” But how can everything be luxury when luxury is partly defined by rarity?

“Luxury is a relative term that could refer to almost anything or nothing depending on whom you ask. In addition, luxury has today become an inflationary used and worn out label for almost anything”. – Concept of Luxury, Klaus Heine

And, how can you convey all that your development represents in a handful of words? New words and phrase spring up all the time – lux, iconic, prime, super prime, ultra prime – or new jargon gets invented. But often the answer is not in the words.

Step forward brand design.

Effective branding is the difference between the good and great, and the great and the outstanding.


A well crafted identity captures what words cannot. It encapsulates everything a brand stands for, and represents all the adjectives you might want to attached to a development – without saying a word.


Building a brand for a prime residential development is as much a key consideration as the architecture, interior design, facilities and services, location and marketing – they work in unison to bind all the unique aspects into one icon that represents the residence as a whole. For a residence or hotel to call itself luxury or super-prime, all elements need to be addressed, including identity, content and the channels through which they are expressed and experienced.



Context is key – what denotes luxury in London will not necessarily have the same meaning or impact as in New York or Mumbai. Your intended audience is a key factor in developing an identity as luxury means many things to many people. The style of the scheme also influences the brand. Maybe you’re leading with rich and deep opulence, or perhaps cutting edge technology and features, or intricate artisan craftsmanship. An identity we’ve developed for our client Caudwell Collection is for a super-prime scheme in the Cap D’Antibes. The brand needs to work in the context of the market, the buyer and the location – so the identity reflects this. The conceptual thinking referenced icons of french art and fashion and the colours of the med. This wouldn’t work in London because the frame of reference isn’t right.


Context is key – what denotes luxury in London will not necessarily have the same meaning or impact as in New York or Mumbai.


The identity of any development must also represent the efforts of all the creative teams involved to allow the intended audience to understand the unique offer of a particular scheme. Just as an exclusive development should be a one-off, a well crafted identity should also be so. It should take all the elements that make up the development itself and combine to produce an identity that represents more than just the composite parts.


British Land’s Clarges Mayfair development is one of the most talked about schemes in years. The desirability and profile of the scheme is driven by a combination of factors; Enviable location and heritage, star architects, celebrated interior designer, unrivalled facilities and services. The developer has commissioned a brand has been applied throughout the building, in the execution of the signage, soft furnishings and bespoke design elements.

In particular for super-prime, an identity should entice the buyer inside, and it should make passers by on the street to want to see inside, to feel aspirational towards the brand and to reflect a sense of missing out when they cannot gain access. It is the visual equivalent of the velvet rope that hints at the hidden, secret, and discrete – unobtainable to all but the select few.

Ten Trinity Square, the new super-prime/hotel partnership scheme from Reignwood is a great example of this. The logo works in isolation, its interlocking circles overlaid on a triangle has the feel of a secret society for members only.

Naming no names, there are super-prime developments being actively marketed in Central London that have considered almost all the elements but have overlooked the final piece of the puzzle for a complete scheme, and that is a premium brand identity. Getting that far and not maximizing all the work that has gone before seems an unfortunate fall at the last hurdle.


Branding for super-prime must combine the scheme’s prestige and the nature of luxury on offer in the context of the market


Brand identity is the red ribbon that ties the whole incredible package together and creates the idea of the brand – and the place – in the customers’ mind. Branding is critical for strategic placemaking, building a reputation and market for a scheme that will last – and potentially grow – over time. A sense that a development is more than just a building, it’s a destination that creates value, prestige and sense of belonging to the lucky few who get to be members. Branding for super-prime must combine the scheme’s prestige and the nature of luxury on offer in the context of the market, and set the scheme apart. It’s not about shouting the loudest, it’s about saying something different.

When words such as ‘luxury’ are used to market everything from biscuits to toilet paper, you know it’s lost some of it’s impact. In this absence of meaning, it is the art of design that has the ability to deliver.

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