“The value of real estate comes from two things: supply and demand.” This was the opening statement for Aaron Renn’s keynote speech co-orgainzed by Propmodo at MIPIM PropTech Europe in June. While this statement seems obvious on the parcel level, it also applies to cities and towns. One of the fascinating things about real estate is how everything is interconnected. You can’t understand a building unless you understand its surroundings. Aaron is one of the premier thinkers about cities. We invited him to speak at the event because we knew his time as a partner at Accenture and his role as Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute would allow him to give a unique perspective of how real estate is affected by the cities around it. We were not disappointed.
“There is generator of demand that is well understood in the corporate world but less well understood and applied into the urban one,” he continued, “and that is the attractional power of a city’s brand.” Cities, like products, are not only their physical embodiment, the infrastructure and buildings that make it up, but are also made up of the ideas that we have of them. This idea, that the essence of a thing is tied to its perception, is the basis for branding. Brands are some of the most valuable things in the world but, like perception itself, are in a state of constant flux and can be nearly impossible to fully quantify.
Even still, visionaries from every field have worked tirelessly to try to cultivate and harvest strong brands. For companies and products, this usually means instilling a sense of uniqueness. One of the most influential business minds of our generation, Michael Porter, actually defines strategy as uniqueness: “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.” Apple’s Steve Jobs understood this concept well. He help create one of the world’s most valuable brands with a elegantly simple message “Think different.”
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