Over the past few years, the growing proptech sector has begun to overturn, albeit slowly, consumer relationships with the property industry. Digital innovation has introduced greater transparency to the market, allowing those buying, selling, renting and even investing, to cut out the ‘middle man’ and take control of the process. With more of a direct relationship with the consumer, the businesses behind them – often start-ups – can launch with a brand ‘purpose’ that quite clearly puts customer need at the heart of the proposition. That said, if Purplebricks’ recent run-in with the ASA tells us anything, it’s that brand purpose must be more than just a signal. Yes, it needs to make business sense, but the product offering also needs to hold up to scrutiny and genuinely offer a better alternative.
Looking to the more established property businesses, there is certainly a case for reviewing what the existing brand purpose is, if there is one, and ensuring it’s something that filters through every segment of the company. This includes its employees as the ones actually dealing with customers and ensuring that promise is delivered on a daily basis. In the UK, our relationship with property has always been focused on ownership; “an Englishman’s home is his castle.” With the growth of PRS, on the other hand, renting is increasingly becoming a viable option as a lifestyle choice as well as a stepping-stone to ownership. Whatever route people choose, trust in the business they choose to help put a roof over their heads is crucial, as is a purpose that goes beyond empty statements. Whether it’s ensuring a quick sale, rental standards, property management or customer service, it ideally needs to be a specific statement that can be seen through. If that can be achieved, recognition and loyalty will follow – and that is ultimately what makes business sense.