Earfuls of sunshine

Developers tap into the power of music to brand condo projects

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Sep.September 09, 2008 12:02 PM

Visitors to the sales center of CIMA, a 52-story condo planned for a site beside the Miami River, face a concerted sales effort that seeks to grab the eye and the ear, and put them into a new property.

Developer Neo Epoch leaves nothing to chance with its CIMA pitch. Beyond the tasteful model suites and eye-catching renderings, there’s another specially programmed device to sway would-be buyers: music.

Developers say tailored soundtracks are part of a building’s branding, making them much more than background sound. It’s a tool a growing number of south Florida developers are deploying.

Neo Epoch worked with Arno Elias, the musical mind behind the Buddha Bar series, to compose a compact disc that sonically captures the cosmopolitanism and tropical lushness of CIMA (when it’s done, the residential complex will be surrounded by 13.5 acres of landscaped gardens). Ricardo Monater, an Argentine-Venezuelan crooner residing in Miami, also collaborated. The soundtrack draws on musical influences from the Middle East, India, Spain, France and Latin America.

“Music creates an ambiance,” said Lissette Calderon, founder and CEO of Neo Epoch. “Hearing is one of the five senses, and it enhances the experience of the CIMA lifestyle we’re creating. The music works with the visuals and the smells to represent what CIMA stands for: defying traditional thinking and defining future trends in development.”

Of course other types of retail outlets like restaurants and department stores have been using music and subliminal commands as selling tools for years. But Neo Epoch is among the first companies in Miami to try it selling condos.

“In the past, most real estate developers didn’t consider sensory branding,” said Allen Klevens, founder of Prescriptive Music, a California-based firm that got its start peddling relaxing CDs for surgeons to play in operating rooms. “Music sets the stage for an emotional connection. It’s the secret branding weapon and developers are beginning to catch on.”

Choosing the right music for a particular project can be tricky. Klevens finds inspiration for music for condo towers from renderings, color schemes, logos, information about target demographics as well as the dictates and tastes of the developers.

Deborah Samuel, marketing manager for Midtown Miami, a 4 million-square-foot mixed-use project under development in the heart of Miami, says the music mix for her project is based on factors like the project’s modern architectural style and the perceived tastes of the building’s target demographic: young professionals between the ages of 20 and 40.

Dayco, the developers of Town Center at Dadeland, a mixed-use project on 5.5 acres, uses music as a marketing tool to sell its office condos.

According to Doris Meyers, project manager for the development, the soundtrack for the Town Center helps the sales center overcome “a significant perception challenge.”

That’s because the sales office for the Town Center is in a dowdy 40-year-old medical office building, which sends out a visual message that clashes with the marketing ambitions of the project. Dayco admits that the older structure sometimes causes confusion and sends out a mixed message.

“People sometimes think we’re converting this medical building to office condos, which has been a trend,” said Meyers. “To overcome that perception, we’ve remodeled the lobby to appeal to our potential buyers, and music is a big part of setting the tone.”


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