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Wednesday, May 18, 2022


A `brand’ new world for Southern California

Corporate brands can cut through the clutter

Legacy Building Series is one Watson brand

In an age where we are daily bombarded with volumes of information, a well-conceived brand can cut through the clutter by concisely capturing the value of a product, service or company.

Though many companies use the branding process regularly and effectively, one industry has largely overlooked this powerful marketing avenue–the industrial real estate arena. But that is changing, and right here in Southern California with a new corporate branding program being introduced by Watson Land Co.

As this approach will demonstrate, the branding process offers competitive advantages by clearly defining the value of products and services–and the company behind it all–to end users. In turn, expansion- and relocation-minded industrial companies can seek out these brands, for they will likely offer better solutions for meeting their day-to-day real estate and operational needs.

Industrial branding

For the uninitiated, the industrial real estate marketplace is often viewed as simply tilt-up concrete developments usually situated in logistically-prudent locations.

While this perception may have some authenticity, it does not hold true for every industrial property. In fact, major strides can and have been made in developing masterplanned projects with buildings that cater to the needs of today’s increasingly sophisticated industrial and R & D; users. In Southern California, Watson Industrial Center South in Carson as an example.

The challenge, then, is communicating the product value to the target audience. Just as Mercedes-Benz promotes its identity of luxury and prestige, Watson is using branding as a vehicle to position and promote its facilities and property in the marketplace.

Consider, for example, five new industrial buildings–two build-to-suits and three speculative–currently being developed by Watson in the City of Carson and surrounding community. Totaling more than 573,000 square feet, all of which broke ground this month, these facilities have been branded as the Legacy Building Series and are being positioned as a new class of state-of-the-art industrial product in the South Bay region. Why? Because they offer a mix of state-of-the-art features that include Early Suppression-Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems, 30-foot minimum warehouse clearance heights, oversized concrete truck yards and enhanced building exteriors, to name a few. From a pure construction standpoint, the features say much about the integrity of the buildings. But for many existing and potential tenants, the value of these may not be readily apparent.

Legacy Series focus

There are two major focuses of the Legacy Building Series brand. One is to define the selling points of the new properties from the user’s point of view. Overall, the product class provides tenants with industrial buildings and corporate headquarters that offer greater operational efficiency, performance and image. That’s a message you want to hear if you’re a company making a 10-year investment in a 200,000-square-foot distribution facility. What do the ESFR sprinkler systems and 30-foot minimum clearance heights offer? They provide superior commodity flexibility while optimizing cubic storage capacity. That’s a significant advantage for logistics companies with major warehousing needs.

The second point is to communicate the value of the company behind the product. In Watson’s case, this includes long-term ownership stability and commitment, financial strength, a complete range of integrated real estate services, a quality product and more. Like the Legacy Building Series name, the company captures these messages using a brand slogan, “Experience The Watson Value Advantage.”

Promoting services, too

Appearing as a logo on all marketing materials, this theme underscores the company’s unique attributes while at the same time inviting industrial users to experience the differences for themselves.

The bottom line is that effective branding, whether it’s for a luxury automobile or a state-of-the-art industrial building, can enhance a quality product’s marketing appeal, image and positioning.

It can also work effectively for positioning and promoting services, too, such as the recently created “Watson’s Customized Building Service Program.”

This service is somewhat like a modified gross lease program, but better for the tenant.

Through the program, Watson assumes and manages building maintenance and operating functions, including total yard and roof responsibility, exterior building painting, landscaping and more. The service can be customized to suit the specific needs of an industrial user. What’s the value? Once a tenant has signed a lease, all of its real estate needs are taken care of so it can focus on its business. For industrial companies large or small, that’s an attractive selling point which is communicated succinctly by branding.

For a tenant seeking industrial space, a well-defined brand like the Watson Value Advantage campaign can make it easier to understand the value of the product being leased or the service being provided. It can also instill a sense of confidence that comes from selecting a building that has been carefully crafted–from its development to final marketing–to meet the tenant’s real estate needs efficiently and effectively.

A brand reminder

On the surface it may sound obvious, but it’s something that can easily be forgotten. A brand is more than just a name because, over the long term, substance is what carries a brand and sustains its value.

This is particularly true for industrial real estate. Here you have companies that are making multi-million dollar investments in buildings which need to be functional for many years. With so much on the line, tenants need to know that their state-of-the-art building–an asset that they depend on daily to operate their business–is supported by quality service and a dedicated landlord and property manager.

The above is a comfort level that comes only after careful brand evaluation of the product, the service and the company behind it all. Is the building truly flexible and efficient? Is the service support being delivered by experienced and qualified senior managers? Does the real estate provider offer financial strength and a long-term commitment to the property?

Clearly, the goal is to ensure that the answers to these questions and more are consistent with the brand promise.

Kirk R. Johnson is vice president of marketing and leasing for Watson Land Co., the largest developer of industrial centers in Los Angeles County and one of the largest industrial developers in the nation. The company has developed and now owns and manages more than 9.6 million square feet of industrial, office and technology buildings and business centers.

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