Senior Living

What’s Your Senior Community Brand Personality?

Mackenzie Fraser, Senior Vice President

If your senior living community entered a personality contest, how would it do? Beautiful grounds, fantastic amenities and five-star reviews mean nothing if the overall community is not the right fit for a prospective resident. So, from the very top of the funnel and through each interaction, it’s imperative that you put your community’s personality front and center.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) have one goal: to provide welcoming, stimulating and healthy environments for the senior population. But that’s not to say CCRCs are one size fits all: Just as some colleges are known as liberal arts schools, engineering schools or sports schools, each CCRC has its own personality. Showing that personality to prospects is critical to making your community stand out from all the other options seniors have.

A senior living brand starts with its name, logo and color palette, but there is more to it than these visual identity elements. At the heart of the brand is its personality, to which many businesses do not pay enough attention. Your brand personality is an emotional factor; the key gut feeling people have when they think and talk about your community. They may not always have immediate unaided recall of brand colors or logo, but they will remember how the community makes them feel.

Know What Prospective Residents Want

Some residents may be with you for 20 years or more, so you want to make sure you make the perfect match between their needs and the community. If you don’t, it may be because you didn’t properly convey your brand personality.

Moving to a retirement community is not a decision that’s taken lightly. The big question a prospective resident will have is, “Is this a place I will be comfortable calling home?” Jumpstart the decision-making process by identifying and highlighting the things that make your community special.

  • Do you have a cornerstone activity that’s the crown jewel of your programming?
  • Are there special amenities that aren’t found in other area CCRCs?
  • Are there unique learning experiences available?
  • Does the community promote independence and an active life?
  • Are your residents friendly and welcoming?
  • What are your residents’ personal and professional backgrounds?
  • How does the CCRC fit into the surrounding community?

Create a buyer persona—the fictional representation of your ideal resident. If your brand personality was human, that’s who it would be. As Stephanie Burns said in a Forbes interview several years ago, “When treating your brand like it’s a person, it’s easy to pull out the small nuances that will create quick connection. You will begin to identify what attracts people to your brand and then build upon what makes them fall in love with you.”

Determine where your persona goes for information and the types of websites this person views. Determine pain points and relate them to the solutions you offer. Are they worried senior living means isolation? Focus attention on the social aspects. Afraid they’ll lose their independence? Demonstrate the full life residents live both on and off campus, the places they go and the things they see.

Know what your buyer persona wants and values, and make sure your messaging reflects that. A prospect looking for a laid-back, down-to-earth lifestyle may not be the best fit for a luxury community with gourmet dining and trips to the opera.

How to Convey Personality

Once you nail down your buyer persona and the values that appeal to them, determine your community’s voice. What voice would your brand have if it were a person? Formal, quirky, sincere or modern? Consider tone and language and how they match your messaging. Then, make sure your messaging authentically uses that voice.

Convey your community’s personality consistently in all internal and external communications, whether it be social media, website, print or other advertisements, collateral materials, welcome packets for employees and residents, webinars, trade shows and more. If you really know your brand personality, consistent brand messaging should be a snap.

Show Off Brand Personality with Stories

Storytelling uses a narrative to communicate your message. Your stories should make it clear why prospects should care about what you’re saying, and they should evoke emotions that prompt them to take action. Your business is all about humans, so make sure you humanize your communications.

Remember, your residents are your ambassadors; they are walking billboards for your community and will spread the message to like-minded people. They have also led interesting lives and have wonderful stories to tell. Here are a few ways to leverage those human stories:

  • Residents—What about your community drew them in and what is their experience? Make a video and use key concepts and quotes in your marketing materials.
  • Associates—When associates speak well of your community, people notice. Have them share their stories about what brought them to your community and what makes them stay. Add some personal information (hobbies, interests) to bring the stories to life.
  • Holidays—For Veteran’s Day, make a video with some of the veterans of the community who want to share their memories about their service. For Christmas, talk to residents about their childhood holiday memories.
  • Seasons—When spring comes, highlight your community gardens and the joy residents take in planting and tending crops. Create imagery that shows them outside enjoying the community trails and open spaces.
  • Trips and Tours—If taking trips is a favorite activity of your target audience and residents, highlight trips in images and videos. If your residents love casino visits, have them talk about how outings to the casino are an unexpected benefit of living in your community.
  • Dining—Is your gourmet food a big draw? High-quality photos of the food and testimonials from residents should be showcased online and in collateral materials.
  • Happy Hour—Show residents socializing with neighbors over a glass of wine, highlighting your campus both indoors and out. Turn their comments on how socialization helps them feel fulfilled into engaging stories.

As you can see, there are many stories that can evoke emotion and show off your brand personality to its fullest waiting to be told in your community. You just need to find them and bring them to light.

Use knowledge of your brand personality as the guiding light for your sales and marketing efforts. Allow that personality to come to life and stay true to it in your marketing materials and the sales process over the long haul. That way, when prospective residents make that final decision, it will be a match that’s right for everyone—and a decision they won’t regret.

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