A national developer is bringing inspiration from an age-old idiom to the multifamily space—killing two birds with one stone by offering a pair of completely different brands within a single Brooklyn tower.
It’s called “dual-branding,” a popular concept in the hotel and hospitality industry that has penetrated the multifamily market with a new apartment tower from AvalonBay Communities.
“You can’t be everything to everyone. By offering a variety of products, you can appeal to more customers,” says Lauren Cahill, senior development director for AvalonBay Communities.
AvalonBay’s 826-unit development, in the heart of Brooklyn, features two starkly contrasted brands. Willoughby Square, which belongs to the developer’s Avalon brand, includes 326 units on the top levels of the building (floors 30 through 58). Meanwhile, 500 units on the bottom floors (two through 29) make up AVA DoBro, part of AvalonBay’s AVA brand.
And the two brands are very different.
“The Avalon brand is described as elevated living. It’s very urbane, refined and sophisticated, modern and current in design. AVA is a new brand that really takes its touchpoints on design from the local community. It’s very activated and social. It’s edgier and far more informal,” says Nancy Ruddy, founding principal of CentraRuddy, the architectural designer on the AvalonBay project.
Appealing to “Psychographics”
In hearing these two brands described, one would immediately assume that Avalon Willoughby Square is geared towards active adults, while AVA DoBro is more appropriate for the Millennial generation. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.
“It’s interesting, because, at first, the AVA brand was created to appeal to Millennials, a much younger demographic,” says Ruddy. Although, the project team soon discovered that these brands—especially AVA—were less about appeal to demographics and more about what Ruddy refers to as “a psychographic.”
“You can have someone who is 25 and someone who is 60 looking for the same thing,” she says.
Appealing to a psychographic requires developers and designers to tap into the desires that clients want in terms of design, style and attitude. Ruddy calls it a “great design challenge.”
“And from a real estate standpoint, it’s actually very clever,” she adds. “It allows a developer or builder to have a diversity of product and appeal to two distinct markets.”
Shared Spaces and Unique Amenities
A major challenge that comes with dual-branding any development is the trickiness of making a single building feel like two separate communities.
Since this specific project is a corner building, CentraRuddy was able to design the tower with two separate entrances on two different streets, which accentuates the feel of the property being two diverse entities.
From an amenities standpoint, the two brands have a variety of different offerings but do share a handful of comfort and community areas—fitness center, bike lounge and rooftop hangout space, to name a few. The Avalon brand differs by including its own private entertainment space, dining area and community kitchens.
AVA DoBro, on the other hand, is far more driven on the concept of community and achieves these goals through a variety of technologies. This specific brand features “The Chill Lounge,” a community area where young people can collaborate, communicate and chill.
In AVA’s lobby area, there are interactive touchscreens, where renters can receive an abundance of information—from local news to community events to the schedule of the subway. There are also charging stations throughout the community spaces and in-unit, which further showcase how the AVA brand is more technologically prone, because that’s what the development’s psychographic wants.
What Developers Can Learn from Dual-Branding
Dual-branding is a concept that developers should consider when designing their upcoming projects, as it has been a tremendous success with this particular project.
“It rented up really fast in an area of downtown Brooklyn with lots of competing new products,” says Ruddy. “And I think it’s because high quality design is something that people are really attracted to.”
Ruddy says that potential renters are often asked a question when they tour the property— “Are you an Avalon person or an AVA person?”
Being able to ask these types of questions is important, because customers enjoy the freedom to choose. By offering a diversity of products in a singular environment, industry professionals can, in turn, appeal to a diversity of clients.
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