The importance of brand in commercial property

Nikki Dibley
29 November 2022

In today’s crowded marketplace, standing apart from the competition has never been more important. But is it ever enough just to be “the best”, “the first” or “the most…”? At Helical, while we have a distinctive new (award winning) corporate brand, we like to let our buildings each occupy their own distinct identity separate from our overarching Helical personality. For a company like ours with a portfolio of streamlined yet individual assets, this identity piece is essential to the successful letting of a building and creation of a destination.

It will not have gone unnoticed that our current portfolio is very location-centric, with 99% of our assets being located within 2.5 square miles, in and around the City. Despite this commonality of location (which is no accident) each of the assets has a very distinct personality and occupier, and therefore each merits its own very different individual brand identity.

Take Barts Square for example. While a slight outlier being our only scheme to incorporate residential space within the mixed-use umbrella, the brand and identity speaks to the refined and crafted nature of the scheme as a whole. Capitalising upon the abundant heritage peppered throughout the site, we worked with Me and Dave to create a multi-purpose, long lasting brand which has now been used across residential, retail and office space (albeit tailored to each asset) and has evolved and endured over the 10+ year lifecycle of the project.

This is a distinct contrast to The Bower, another long lasting scheme but with a very different profile. Comprising office and retail and with placemaking as a key factor of the development, this urban, Old Street location appeals to the forward looking, young occupier with their finger on the sartorial and stylistic pulse. The brand, developed with Campbell Hay, is pared back and slick, drawing on magazine-style editorial content for the brochure and website and with a distinctive yet subtle marque and font which is, as is customary for us, used throughout the building within the signage, graphic language and tenant communications.

Our most recent building launch, The JJ Mack Building, is one of our more unusually named schemes, but as with everything we do, the name and identity is conceived with integrity and draws on the heritage of the site, once occupied by JJ Mack and Sons as a greengrocer’s store. We loved the market connotations and connections of the site’s heritage and so proudly revitalised the JJ Mack name, using market style signage and graphic language throughout the brand. The vibrant colours, while perhaps brighter than we would usually choose, begin life in full bleed iterations in the early marketing to draw attention and then become more pared back with subtle tints used in the website, thereby enabling the brand to live beyond the initial marketing phase of the development.

Once upon a time, City office buildings were simply glass boxes in which to go to work 9-5, Monday to Friday. Now they serve as a calling card for their occupiers, the embodiment of a company’s brand, spirit and ethos and a place for their workforce to come together and collaborate. Crucially, they need to be a place that staff want to come to, not feel that they have to inhabit. Of course the building fabric, the design details, material choices, amenities, sustainability credentials, the tenant’s own fit out choices and the general “feel” of being in the building are the primary source of a development’s appeal. I am not suggesting that a slick brand can overcome inherent shortcomings in the bones of a building. However when used as part of a successful and well conceived scheme such as The JJ Mack Building; an intelligent, appealing and eye catching brand can be the element that pulls all the threads of a building together and puts the final stamp on creating a place that people want to occupy.

There is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than hearing people refer to our schemes by their brand name and using these names in synonymity with quality. Hearing someone say that they were “going to The Bower” for a night out was a moment of triumph; creating exemplary buildings, a great ground floor experience AND an overarching brand to tie it all together had resulted in the genuine creation of a new place and as a developer, there is not a great deal more satisfying than that.


For further information:

  • Nikki Dibley
    Senior Development Executive
    Tel 020 7629 0113