Rob Smith

In senior living, branding can be particularly challenging because many of the amenities and offerings, can, on the surface, run the risk of sounding a bit similar. The community that hasn’t identified the most unique aspects of its culture may miss out on an opportunity to truly tell its story.

That’s why it’s important to find unique qualities that the community can hang its hat on: What is it about the residents and the staff that can be used to identify a brand that stands out in the marketplace?

To differentiate among communities, we need to look beneath the surface. How do the residents live? How do they interact with staff? What led them to choose this place over their other options? What happens organically within the community that gives it life? It could be a special group that maintains the trails or goes out into the community to volunteer. It could be the difference between a library and an active book group led by residents.

Delving into the details is critical because branding is not about assigning a personality to your client, it is about discovering the one that already exists, then helping the client to own it, live it and encourage others to become a part of it. It’s not just about a logo or a tagline. It’s a promise that a community that can make to its prospective residents that no other competitor can deliver on.

For me, as a designer by background and a creative director by trade, design and advertising are definitely part of the expression. They are the face of the brand seen in the website, the outdoor board along the highway and the sign out front. This face helps define the brand’s personality and its values. It expresses the brand in a way that is meaningful and a source of pride within the community.

But the advertising and design are only meaningful if they come from a place of truth. It’s important to dig deep into a community’s stories, identify genuine benefits that everyone can recognize as authentic, and then work consciously to expand on them to set the community apart.

The reward of finding that niche and having management, staff and residents embrace it is watching energy and excitement permeate the community as its brand comes to life.