Regional Outlook #4

Living the Lifestyle

From Space to Place
Students seeking purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) are looking for more than a brand name. Students are as discerning as ever, often gravitating to brands that offer more than name recognition. Instead, students are seeking out brands that align practice with clear values, principles. 
It’s about building a framework and then having freedom within that framework. It’s the compass of any successful brand and subsequent project

— Charlotte Steedman [1]

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The heart and soul of good branding is a focus on standards, service and surprise. “Standards, service and surprising, or exceeding expectations, is key to brand sustainability and touach on all aspects of an organisation and business” [1]. High standards for operations and delivery, delivering quality services to clients and ocassionally going above and beyond are critical to developing providers, operators and students.
What is your brands guiding light? Does your brand have a set of values, principles and aims every member of your team can relate to? Branding and sustainability rests, in part, on having a guiding set of aims and a solid sense of individual and shared purpose. Branding touches every area, part and person of an organization. Freedom, is about responsiveness and fluidity, being able to change and adapt to trends and new territories opening up new possibilities. Good business and branding involves framing the purpose of work and allowing teams the freedom to operate within a frame. Freedom involves new possibilities.
Platforms are becoming a key concept in the formulation of student housing. In a time of high student mobility, growing international demand and a drive to create local, branding and platformisation reflects the diversity in types and models of student housing. Platforms’ focus on social and personal spaces is a key concern for brands and operators. Creating opportunities for students to socialize, study and retreat are infusing new types of student housing. Student housing providers and operators are looking at their brands and provision as ‘platforms’, aiming to create a consistency within and
between their facilities.
Birds of a feather flock together. Brands who have strong operations and reputations are co-branding in order to generate synergies and create value for themselves and students. The relationship is about quality seeking out an co-creating quality. Co-branding, like a good partnership, creates opportunities for a positive ‘halo’ effect to both…Quality magnifying Quality.
From digital check in/check outs to in-room smart speakers that control blinds, lighting and temperature, students are seeing deeper integration with the digital in and across new brands of student housing. Students are arriving with a digital history and a growing digital footprint. Mediating the blurred boundaries between students online/virtual/digital life and their residential life is becoming an ever pressing and important borderland for operators, providers, institutions and students alike. 
Materials matter. A focus on details brings a brand to life in students’ experience with and in student housing. Great brands focus on the details, bringing them to life in the quality used to materialize student residential living. For some, this will be in the quality of materials used to furnish student housing. Others will focus on creating spaces and places for students to create their own residential life. No matter what factors are utilised to explore and understand students’ residential living, the material underpinning the brand experience and emergent stories remains as important as ever.
Adding rituals to your brand experience will not only give you a competitive edge, but also create memorable moments that will build a stronger relationship between you and your audience, increasing brand recall and loyalty

— Felix Burghardt