Lori Ann Dinkins: The Power of Property Branding and Interior Design

by Katie Sloan

When it comes to student housing properties, creating a strong brand identity and implementing captivating interior design go hand in hand. These two elements work together seamlessly to provide a consistent and memorable experience for residents.

But is branding and interior design a relevant conversation in this economic climate? The convenient answer is — yes. Students need a place to live at all times during the economic cycle, no matter what their financial circumstances. For most students who are going to stay in their general area, the price of rent will be a major factor in determining where they go or why they stay.

From the interiors perspective, operators who believe they can adjust rents by upgrading units and common areas are on the right track — mostly. It’s not possible that every property has the same value-add potential. And working with properties that have been held by the seller for more than five years implies that the seller has a significantly lower cost basis and does not have as much incentive to push rents to the top of the market. On the other hand, sellers who are flipping the property in one to three years are often eager to rebrand, complete upgrades and push rents until a point where there is no more room to grow without the market rising on a macro level. This process requires an experienced partnership to identify what value-add improvements can be made that supports the vision and economic goals of the brand.

Branding: Capturing the Essence

We all know, branding goes beyond just having a creative logo or a catchy tagline. A solid brand embodies the essence of your student housing property and conveys its unique personality and values. By developing a compelling brand identity, you establish an emotional connection with residents and set yourself apart in a competitive market. A well-defined brand positions your property as more than just a place to live; it becomes a lifestyle choice. Consistent branding helps build trust and loyalty among residents, creating a sense of belonging and community.

Interior Design: Bringing the Brand to Life

Interior design is the art of translating brand identity into tangible experiences within a property. From the moment residents step into the leasing office to the clubhouse to the comfort of their individual units, interior design elements should reflect and reinforce the brand’s essence. It is the perfect opportunity to immerse residents in the unique aesthetic, mood and lifestyle that your property offers. Through carefully selected materials, colors, furnishings and architectural details, interior design creates an inviting and memorable atmosphere that aligns with your branding.

Transforming Spaces

With a rebranding strategy, properties that were once perceived as outdated and mundane can undergo a dramatic transformation. By infusing modern design elements like contemporary furniture, vibrant color palettes and timeless finishes, a property can be reborn as a current and engaging community. These visual changes, coupled with a well-crafted brand messaging strategy, attract new residents and revitalize existing resident engagement.

Addressing Concerns: Cost, Time, and Challenges

Implementing property branding and interior design may raise concerns about cost, time and the challenges of maintaining consistency throughout a portfolio. It is important to approach these endeavors strategically. By partnering with experienced design professionals, you can optimize your budget, streamline the design process and achieve desired results efficiently. Furthermore, creating design guidelines, templates and mood boards allows for a consistent brand experience across all properties, ensuring that the investment in branding and design is protected.

Enhancing Tenant Experience and Value

Student property branding and interior design are not mere superficial additions; they are powerful tools that enhance resident experiences and increase property value. The synergy between branding and interior design fosters a sense of belonging and community. In a competitive market, a well-executed branding and design collaboration provides an advantage, attracting future residents and increasing resident satisfaction and retention. By investing in these crucial elements, you create a harmonious environment that sets your property apart, fuels tenant loyalty, and ultimately drives long-term success.

In the world of student housing, the connection between branding and interior design is undeniable — providing the opportunity to take a deep dive into distinguishing strengths from weaknesses while identifying potential upside. This includes fine tuning assumptions relating to capital improvement projects, tenant improvement allowances, value-add opportunities, and more.

Embrace the partnership between property branding and interior design. Together, they forge an extraordinary experience that resonates with residents, fosters community, and elevates your property to new heights.

—Lori Ann Dinkins is president & CEO of Mood Interior Designs, a commercial interior design firm serving the commercial housing industry. She can be reached directly at: [email protected]

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