In 2020, branding is everything. From stamping one’s personal branding across social media accounts to the business branding that often intersects with the former, establishing one’s identity, values, and aspirations is paramount. In an era when a name can be made – or ruined – through a single tweet, and when CSR underpins the strategic thinking of businesses across all industries, standing out for the right reasons is paramount.
But what about branding things that aren’t so easily humanized? Such as the bricks and mortar that form our homes, places of work, and public spaces. How do you brand a building, giving it qualities that are more synonymous with its inhabitants than its rough surfaces and cold stone exterior? The answer lies in branded real estate, a movement that’s been a century in the making but which is only now starting to gain momentum. This year, branded real estate has been given a makeover with the help of an unlikely source – the art world.
This is the story of an unconventional marriage between beauty and buildings, and the outcomes it engenders when creatives focus their energies on sprawling structures, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. It is also the story of one entrepreneur, Tom John Light, and his mission to revitalize the property industry by rebranding the very concept of what branded real estate means.
Branded Real Estate Enters the 21st Century
The first branded residence was established in New York almost a century ago and to this day North America remains the home of the branded property market. In the decades since, the trend has radiated across the world, bringing branded real estate to new markets and presenting new opportunities for the designers tasked with creating developments that turn heads and attract buyers.
Much of the growth in branded real estate (the number of projects commissioned in the past decade has doubled) has been driven by hotel chains, but residential property developers are also starting to get in on the act, creating flagship buildings in high status cities from Dubai to Tel Aviv. Through a combination of serendipity and savvy, entrepreneur Tom John Light has found himself at the center of the branded real estate renaissance as it sweeps across Europe, leaving a trail of transformed properties in its wake. His startup LightArt is now pioneering a new way of designing, marketing, and selling real estate.
Revitalizing the Real Estate Market
With global trends causing urban dwellers to reassess their love affair with the city, property developers are being forced to innovate. To generate interest in new developments, both residential and commercial, enterprising developers are turning to branded real estate as a solution. The concept has gained traction at a time when people are craving shared experiences ahead of tangible possessions.
This is where brands like LightArt come into the picture. The startup’s arresting artworks have captivated real estate developers looking to drum up interest in new builds, be it a shopping center or residential complex. Hotel chains have also turned to branded art as a means of wooing travelers at a time when people are being more selective about where and when they vacation.
In Tel Aviv, LightArt recently worked with professional street artists to create an urban branded residential development. The result is an ultra-modern apartment block, its balconies decked out in bold red, yellow, and turquoise that captures attention without commandeering the neighborhood in the process. After LightArt joined the project and worked its magic, the value of the properties increased by 25% and all apartments were sold pre-construction. The startup is now in talks to transform commercial buildings ranging from skyscrapers to a boutique hotel.
Bold Designs for a Brave New World
Commissioning contemporary art to complement contemporary developments is about more than maximizing occupancy and adding value: it also fosters a sense of community in a world where shared experiences have given way to digital simulacrums. LightArt founder Tom John Light believes that branded buildings create “electric and magic” through placing residents and guests in living spaces that foster shared moments that draw people together. Branded real estate alone can’t fend off larger economic forces, but it provides a new vertical for the art world to enter while incentivizing developers to think creatively.