How Personas Can Influence Your Brand & Architectural Decisions

Marketing, Real Estate Development

Read Time: 6 Min

Pop quiz: What is AOR’s tagline?

If your answer was ‘People First By Design’ give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve been paying attention!

Yes, we say it all the time, but it’s important, and that’s why we believe so heavily in personas. Personas are fictional people crafted as a way to represent the different audience types who show up in data related to your product, solution, services, or industry in general.

Why Use Them & How They’ll Help

The purpose of personas is to understand our audiences ‘what and why,’ personas put us in their shoes and allow us to view our product, property, business, etc, through their lens. In other words, creating personas helps us step out of ourselves. We’ll gain the ability to recognize that different people have different needs and expectations. Let’s use the example of a real estate development venture. Maybe you are a developer looking to name, brand, and build a new apartment complex from the ground up. By starting your process by developing personas, you’ll be able to identify the tenants you are designing the brand and architecture for. Design tasks, architectural decisions, and overall branding strategy discussions become much less complex since your personas will guide your ideation process and ultimately build a more successful development.

  1. Real-World Consideration & Empathy
    The bottom line is, people matter. Having empathy and compassion for your audience base says a lot about your company and development. Developing personas shows your target audience that you care, that you want them to feel at home in your development, and that you understand their needs, concerns, and excitements. Utilizing real-world consideration will help you make decisions based on real data instead of individual opinions.
  2. Company-Wide Understanding of Users
    Individual opinions are what can skew a project and stir it directly off course. By establishing a set of personas early on, you’ll ensure a company-wide understanding of users based on real data. If everyone is on the same page from the start, you’ll increase your chances of a successful project. Any time a decision comes to your desk and each member of your team has a different perspective, consider your personas.
  3. A More Successful Brand
    Brands are often targeted to very specific groups of people. It is extremely beneficial for your brand to understand who you are marketing to. For example, Burton’s target audience is typically very athletic people, usually younger, and typically those who love the outdoors. They are going to take that knowledge and develop marketing materials, store layouts, and products that will satisfy that persona. Yes, the persona affects the decision-making process for all aspects of the company, but the brand itself is very much dependent upon that persona. The same can be said for developers. Say you are a developer who works solely on neighborhood communities for 55+ individuals, it would be in your best interest to ensure your brand is interesting and engaging for that group of people. Your fonts should be easy to read, logo simple, etc. Consider who will be engaging with your brand as you either develop your brand, re-brand your existing company, or look to expand on your brand elements/collateral.
  4. Understanding of Customer Behavior
    Data-backed personas will ultimately help you get a good grasp of their behavior. How often are they utilizing certain areas of a building? What kind of visuals are they interacting with the most? What interior design elements are they seeing in social posts and then liking? Any question you have about customer behavior can be answered if you take the time to observe, collect data, and develop well-rounded personas. As you are developing your let’s say mixed-use facility, and you’re trying to decide how many bathrooms to put on each floor, look at your data, consider your personas, and ask yourself, what would Alvin, Simon, or Theodore want? (Those are example personas names. See, you can have fun with them too.)
  5. Focused Conversations
    We talked earlier about individual opinions — when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, focused conversations become impossible. Having a blueprint to refer to when it comes to audience impact will allow for more focused conversations about branding, marketing, and even architecture, ultimately saving you time, money, and most importantly, energy. Wasting away valuable hours wondering what the right way to do something is will take away from the quality and success of your project. Personas will keep you on track and keep the conversations focused, relevant, and productive.
  6. Decision-Making Based on User Needs, Goals, and Motivations
    Each of the points above also has to do with decision-making, because it is a massive part of real estate development — making decisions. And you want that decision-making to be easy, productive, and keep people at the forefront. When you understand your user’s needs, goals, and motivations, you’ll have all the tools you need to develop a property or building that will satisfy your target audience and ensure your reputation as a developer who cares about people and the functionality of your spaces.
    • Prioritize Certain Architectural Features
      We chatted about this earlier, but understanding the age of your users, their preferences, and what motivates them will help you make better architectural decisions when developing your buildings or homes. Ramps were the example we used earlier, but what about interior design preferences? We talked about Burton being an outdoor brand, but what if you were developing an apartment complex to adhere to the growing population of outdoor enthusiasts making their way to Denver? It may be in your best interest to consider installing a rock-climbing wall or ensuring there is a lot of greenery built into the features of the lobby, maybe each apartment has a snowboard or bike rack available. When you know your personas and those who will be interacting most with your building, you’ll understand how to best satisfy them and continue to bring in more business.
    • Informed Design Based on User Preferences
      The same can be said for your brand and marketing collateral. A huge part of real estate development is making sales too. To bring in the right audience, you need to understand what motivates them, what they need, and even what they prefer. Once you understand these aspects of your target audience and you develop your personas, it becomes easier to understand how your design and marketing collateral should look and feel to best resonate with them. If they feel like your branding and marketing are speaking directly to them, they are more likely to engage and then become a conversion or sale.

Want to Learn How to Make Your Community Stand Out?Download AOR’s Free Research Report — “Making Places”

Discover the power of putting people first, and let it change the way you approach your property development project. You’re one step away from the keys to success.

A Great Example

When we did work for The City and County of Denver’s Zero Waste campaign, we started by creating a set of personas to help inform our messaging and visuals. Below are a few examples:

The hard-to-reach persona presented in a pdf

the champion persona presented in a pdf

People-First By Build

Personas are everything when it comes to marketing, branding, development, whatever it is you are working on. Putting people first is a step in the right direction for a successful final product. We did a report recently talking about placemaking in real estate development. Placemaking involves a similar base principle, putting people first. Take a look at our report to find out more about how taking on this mindset when embarking on a real estate development project could make or break your final product.

As always, if you want to chat more about this topic or learn how we implement people-first in what we do, give us a call.

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