The concept of effective brand stories

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Brief summary

  • An effective brand story will persuade families—or at least those who are the right fit—to seriously consider your retirement community.
  • It should be clear, grounded in questions prospects have about you, and stress what makes you special.
  • You’ll need to spread your brand story across a broad scope of media including authoritative, third-party platforms.
  • The better your distribution and the more effective your brand story is, the more likely suitable prospects are to more deeply research your community and seriously consider moving in.

Effective brand stories

All retirement communities have a brand: a set of beliefs, ideas, and associations prospects (and other stakeholders) have about them. They should also have a central brand story that will shape and influence their brand.

But what makes for an effective brand story? We think there are three main ingredients:

  1. Clarity: Brand stories need to be clear. At their core, they should include a vivid set of beliefs and associations that provide the basis for action and decision-making. The more vivid a brand story, the more persuasive it’s likely to be to the consumer. Sometimes the core, or part of the core, of a retirement community’s brand story is a short value-proposition: e.g.: “We offer senior care for active, self-sufficient, and autonomous seniors who want to live in a community of people their age with similar interests.”

  2. Grounded in key questions: No matter what stage a prospect is at in the retirement-community process—e.g., discovery, exploration, etc.—they’ll have questions about your community. These range from simple questions (e.g., what are your annual fees?) to the more complex (e.g., what’s your philosophy of care?). A good brand story will answer the key questions most prospects are likely to have about your community (though it can’t answer all of them).

    Suppose your retirement community, like most, has certain amenities. Families will rightly want to know what these are. An effective brand story will, in part, provide a concise and informative answer to this question. E.G.: “At our community, we have common rooms, dining rooms, libraries, computers, and exercise rooms.”

  3. Stress what makes you special: Each retirement community has its own culture, environment, and approach to care. Your brand story should effectively convey what’s unique about your community and what makes it special. For instance, “Our community is an ideal place for seniors to find inspiration, peace, engagement, and a wide variety of stimulating activities.”

Why an effective brand story is so important

Why is it so important to have an effective brand story? This isn’t as obvious as it may seem, so it’s worth clearly articulating the reasons. Here are three crucial ones:

  1. Limited resources: Prospects cannot deeply research all retirement communities. Given the wide range of options out there, a good brand story can concisely and lucidly convey what you offer. It can help prospects quickly gauge whether you might be a good fit, and whether it’s worth researching you more deeply before they make their choice.

  2. Differentiation: Before a prospect researches your retirement community, they’ll normally have some criteria in mind. A good brand story, by answering the right questions, will help differentiate your community from other seemingly similar options (that may also meet a prospect’s criteria).

  3. Confidence: A good brand story, by clearly explaining what you offer and what makes you special, gives prospects confidence. It tells them that you know who you are, what you do well, and what you do differently. This confidence can be reinforced when your story is distributed on external media such as trusted third-party platforms where prospects research retirement communities.

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