What do people picture in their minds when they hear the name of your senior living community?
Do they imagine a clean, bright facility with active residents? Or do they think of a drab and dull place where folks just sit around? Maybe they struggle to come up with an image of your facility at all.
A strong brand identity is important for a senior living community to differentiate itself from all the older adult living options that exist. There are six pieces to brand identity that all need to be considered:
- Physique. Your physical brand, like your logo and colors, as well as your physical community buildings and spaces.
- Personality. The way you communicate with others -- how you deliver your services. Are you friendly and bubbly, or are you solid and dependable?
- Culture. This is what you care about most -- your values -- and how you treat employees and residents.
- Relationship. For most senior communities, you're providing a home and care as needed. You fill the role of caregiver, or someone who is concerned about the everyday living needs of those you serve.
- Reflection. Who is your audience? For senior living communities, the main focus is potential residents. Depending on your personality and culture, you might also be appealing to adult children of parents who need care.
- Self image. What do the people who might live in your facility think about themselves? Are most of your residents active and fun-loving folks who enjoy the security of a larger facility, or do most need advanced care?
Tying all these together into a cohesive whole is the challenge of brand identity.
Beginning Your Brand Identity Journey
Think of brand identity as a trip that never quite ends. You're always going to be tweaking and sharpening your brand identity. But if you haven't given much thought to how people perceive your senior living community, you have some work to do. Here's how to start.
- Revisit your name. Your name can give people who don't know anything else a peek into what your facility is like. Does it communicate what you do and who you serve? If not, your brand identity journey might begin with a quest to find the right name.
- Update your physical look. Certain colors and fonts were popular in the past, and if you're using something that was trendy 5 or 10 years ago, it will look old. If you have a dated looking logo, it's time for a refresh.
- Create a personality for your brand. Start by determining your existing brand personality; talk to employees and residents and identify six to eight characteristics that would describe your community. Outgoing or reserved? Strict or relaxed? Scheduled or flexible? Do any of these conflict with the marketing messages you're sending?
- Establish buyer personas. You need to know who you're "selling" to. This is easier to do if you make up characters that represent the different audiences you're appealing to. The more detailed you can be, the better. For example, don't just think of a woman in her 60s -- your persona is Linda, a 68-year-old recently widowed mother of three adult children who likes dogs and being in nature. You can have multiple buyer personas, but your marketing should be targeted at one or more of them.
- Know your culture. Sometimes this can be tricky to fully uncover, but it can help you with your efforts to refine your brand personality and know what appeals to potential residents. Understand what your employees value and what is most important to your administrators.
Your goal with establishing brand identity is to understand who you are, what you are selling and who you are selling to. This will focus your marketing efforts, make your advertising more effective and help you attract leads that will be more likely to become residents. It will also give existing residents a better understanding of your facility and how to best fit into the community.