June 25, 2015

Brand architecture for senior housing communities can influence decisions

Elderly Shuttle Bus and Building with IX logo

Brand architecture in the senior living industry can be just as complicated as finding the best living situation for a parent. I realized this when I was helping my aging mother select a senior living community. While researching her options, I noticed the different types of brand architectures being used in the industry.

I continue to follow the industry because the merger and acquisition activity leads to brand implementation work for Implementix. Last week, I had a conversation with the CMO of a senior living organization and she explained the typical brand architecture of companies in the industry. A management company usually owns and oversees a group of communities for seniors needing different levels of care – assisted living, memory care, and so on. The community brand is very important inside the overall brand architecture, as it emphasizes the services provided at the local level. At the same time, there are macro trends that lead to an emphasis on the management company in the brand architecture, like the role of technology, the relationship between managed care programs and senior living companies, and different levels of care being vertically integrated across management company and community brands.

These brand architecture issues definitely came into play when my mother and I were looking for her new home. She was looking at the decision based on her current health and lifestyle, and limited her choices to communities where her friends lived or where someone she knew heard good things about the community. As her caregiver, I needed to plan for how her condition could change over time, so I was looking at the overall philosophy of the management company and the range of services offered at all of its facilities. One community on her list had a complicated brand architecture, featuring the location (geographic), the group of communities, and the brand of the national management company.

Our different ways of looking at her choices came together at church one day. While I was dropping her off at the curb before parking the car, a shuttle bus from a nearby senior living community pulled up to drop off a few residents. Needless to say, I checked out the branding on the shuttle bus. What caught my eye was the complicated brand architecture, which I recognized from my research. The management company’s national emphasis on low sight accommodations had appealed to me. The shuttle also caught my mother’s attention because she had a friend living in that community.

This organization’s brand architecture spoke to both of us, and my mother lived at two facilities owned by the management company. Sometimes it’s the ordinary, everyday things, like seeing a shuttle van at church, that help us make difficult decisions.