Incorporating the five senses into every resident experience

“Make yourself at home” may seem like a trite, overused phrase in today’s vernacular, yet when it comes to any advertising campaign geared towards real estate, this phrase can be the key to success in a crowded and competitive market. So, how do we in the multifamily industry ensure that your prospects and residents connect your apartment living experience with “home”? The core of the solution may be as simple as engaging their five senses (touch, see, hear, taste, and smell) from the beginning to the end of their rental journey.

Other industries have been delivering sensory touchpoints for years. Think of Harley Davidson and their patented engine rumble, Dunkin’ Donuts and their coffee-scented air fresher (which led to a 29% increase in sales), or memorable jingles that you can’t get out of your head (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”), while other companies have focused on connecting the senses via trademarked colors, such as Coca-Cola’s red or Virgin America’s purple cabin lights.

This sensory revelation isn’t surprising for those on the Operations side of multifamily, specifically those directly involved with customers on-site. From interactive touch screens in the lobby to custom scents for air fresheners to background music in the public spaces to stocking the model’s refrigerator with drinks and snacks for tours, they know the importance of the five senses in the leasing process but often it’s an afterthought. But, have you also taken steps to intentionally incorporate the five senses in your branding and advertising efforts to really tie everything together to make the connection with “home”?

Pro Tip: Earlier is better to connect your branding firm with your architect and interior designers. Collaboration in the upfront allows the branding, architectural and interior design concepts to be integrated for a stronger overall resident experience.

The most obvious sensory target, and where most companies spend their time and money, is sight. But it’s more than just colors and logos. For example, focus on the photography of your website, especially the gallery page, to highlight warm and inviting colors throughout. Furniture/Accents and wall paint colors matter. Specific colors and palettes evoke different reactions with consumers. Red connotes passion or heat, green speaks to the environment and health, blue connects to power, strength, and dependability, whereas orange translates as confident, brave, and sociable. And when it comes to your branding message, combining the “right” color with the most appealing and unique images and fonts can quickly set your brand aside as different and more desirable than the competition.

Pro Tip: When considering color, a great reference point is Pantone’s Color of the Year. For 23 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.  Smart agencies, like Primary, consider these trends when working on client projects.

How your community sounds can impact their leasing decision, too. Having engaging on-site custom playlists or a compelling online brand video, with soothing narration or upbeat music, can push a prospect from casual looker to tour scheduler. Kairoi’s recent branding package at Troubadour (Austin, TX) was sound-centric from the community’s name to their postcards with QR codes that sent prospects to a custom Spotify playlist. Concepts for their brochure even included a vinyl record jacket.

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Pro Tip: Consider engaging with a firm such as Mood Media to create sound zones and custom playlists in each zone. The lobby will feel more like a lounge and the fitness center will energize you the moment you walk in.

Was it not the immortal Rick Springfield who sang, “We all need the human touch?” Well, it’s true. Even in a virtual world where digital engagement is the new norm, don’t forget the importance of physical brochures and collateral. A unique brochure, featuring die cuts, embossing and/or unique textures, can keep your community top-of-mind when a prospect is reviewing their choices after several tours.

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Perhaps nothing ushers in the feeling of “home” more than smell and taste experiences. Augment the leasing efforts of your on-site leasing team with tasty branding ideas. As they are baking Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in the lobby oven or placing air fresheners in public spaces, consider social media campaigns highlighting resident/prospect food-centric events (from BBQs to wine tastings to partnerships with local fooderies). Additionally, promotional or move-in items can connect to smell and taste, such as branded chapstick, tins of mints, or custom wine bottles. The list is endless, depending on your imagination and your budget.

Pro Tip: There are companies that specialize in branded scents in multifamily such as ScentAir that you can contact to collaborate on your project to make it truly unique.

Especially in this time of pandemic, many prospects are still staying at home, engaging with the world through a digital connection, not allowing them to experience the full spectrum of the five senses. With research showing that over 75% of buyers want to “feel” a product before they make a final decision, it’s a smart business decision to ensure that you are connecting on an emotional level through sensory triggers.

Here at Primary 360, we understand the importance of the five senses and integrate elements that touch upon them into the branding campaigns that we create for our clients. We eat, sleep and breathe (and, yes, see, hear and feel) this stuff. We can make your multifamily offering a feast for the senses. Let us help you help your prospects feel at home. We can help ensure that your apartment community holds multilevel sense appeal; learn more at primary360.com.


About Primary. We’re an award-winning marketing agency that specializes in bringing places to life and bringing people to those places. For nearly 40 years, we’ve helped savvy owners, operators, and managers in real estate, hospitality, and beyond conquer their business goals through brilliant brand building, 3D rendering, digital strategy, lead gen, and more. How can we help you? Drop us a line at: hello@primary360.com or at our Contact Page here.


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