India’s well-known property developer

Building a Brand

Creating a new brand identity for a real estate giant

Client Profile: Shriram Properties is part of the Shriram Group and was started in 1995. They are a well-known property developer with a strong sense of providing consumer satisfaction, and creating good quality, value for money apartments.

Shriram Properties also had partnered with other financial majors for investments in property development.

The business challenge

Until then, Shriram Properties (SPL) had painstakingly built a sizable presence through key projects in South India. Over the next 3 years, they had aggressive growth plans and wanted to develop a deeper pan-India presence with a portfolio of projects in residential apartments, integrated townships, commercial properties and SEZs. 

The client felt that in order to grow the business profitably they would need to reinvent themselves as a luxury brand in the market that could command a price premium over its competition.

If this were to become possible, they would need to reinvent their brand architecture and would also need to ensure an internal alignment of all their employees to the brand’s vision and mission. 

What We Did

Phase 1: Brand Architecture

  • Conducted an in-depth study of the target consumer. This was done in two rounds, the first to get an overall understanding of the market and the second to get a deeper insight into the triggers and barriers for any prospective customer.
  • Our proprietary tool, Vintellity was used and the Vertebrand Arrow was arrived at, which helps in understanding, evaluating and creating a brand identity. Based on this, a new brand blueprint was created. 

Phase 2: Brand Sensitisation:

  • An internal scan of more than 55 employees across levels was conducted to understand the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within the organisation.

Phase 3: Brand Energisation:

  • Branding and marketing communication strategy outlined, initiated and subsequently tracked as well. 
  • The organisational gaps were identified and then suitable solutions were outlined and implemented.

What We Found Out

We found that, the brand had a strong association with “value for money” and could be trusted to deliver on most of its promises. The core brand valences that it had were practical, understanding, trusted and process driven. The staff was seen to be warm and friendly and ready to help. 

However, the brand was clearly not perceived as premium or opulent and that the quality provided was not as good as other A list builders. 

Internally, it was found that while the top leadership had a clear vision and will to accelerate growth exponentially, the middle level employees were not empowered enough or aligned enough with the brand values which was effecting decision making. The focus was clearly on sales and not on the brand.

There was also a feeling of discontent among the staff dealing directly with consumers who felt that they did not enjoy enough authority to be taken seriously. 

The sales and marketing functions were being treated as one, whereas for any brand to grow and have a clear and desirable positioning in the market, these two functions need to be distinct yet interdependent.  

It was also found that all the different projects were functioning independently with little or no cross communication and support.

Our Solution

Brand architecture: 

We recommended that for SPL to chase the premium or luxury identity would be both costly and time consuming. The identity most suited to them would be: 

‘Sensible urban living spaces built on trust, founded on relationships’

We also suggested that the best way to enter the premium market would be by creating separate brands for the different value proposition. Hence three brands emerged : ShriHomes, ShriScapes ShriStays. A clear construct was created for each of these brands and it was also suggested that there should be separate teams behind each of these brands. 

Marketing spends should be elevated and strategies looking at the big picture with specific planned tactics for each project were outlined. Digital marketing was a key component and we helped the client identify a suitable agency. For each of the other on going properties, suitable ad agencies were identified and they were briefed. The new campaigns would address the lacunae in the current positioning, keeping in mind the new brand identity.

Internal alignment:

It was suggested that there should be a centralised team, which provides a clear management framework for each new project. This would also initiate more communication between projects and a tighter grip on how the brand is perceived at all locations. 

The roles and responsibilities for all employees should be clearly defined with a relevant training programme also in place. The focus from top down should shift from sales and numbers to brand and positioning.  

Customer Relationship Management team should look at a longer-term role beyond handover of the project to build trust in the brand.

Marketing teams or Strategic Business Units (SBU) were recommended which would take care of the communication and strategy for each new project, liaising and working with the on ground action teams of each region. 

The Vertebrand team helped the client identify a HR Consulting firm to ensure that the organisational strategies outlined were implemented successfully. 

The Results :

Shriram Properties accelerated its growth plan, after implementing these strategies in both their marketing plan as well as in their organisation, to create a clear brand positioning. As of 2019, they had a total of 54.87 m sqft completed or under construction, across 31 projects.
They underwent a complete corporate restructuring and recruited top talent to execute their ambitious plans across cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakapatnam.

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