I’ve just come across an entertaining blog site critiquing property developments and their marketing hoardings.

I say critiquing … it mostly mocks them, although there are a few singled out for praise.

It’s worth a look through the Development Aesthetics site for its sheer amusement value – as well as a sobering sanity check to help developers and those of us in property marketing avoid inadvertently becoming an object of ridicule!

The lessons here are to avoid being pretentious – that just doesn’t wash. And, as with all marketing, to keep your audience in mind and think through the connotations of your marketing themes.

To pick out a few of my favourites …

Flick down to the photos and commentary on London’s Greenwich Peninsula scheme.

Nice colours; but, as the author says, what possessed them to pick American colonialists settlers as a marketing theme to attract residents to a scheme, especially in such a multi-cultural city?

This hoarding in Shanghai amused me, promising to enable residents to ‘dream of England’. The sign is horribly garish and poorly designed, so what’s the development like? Not like any dream I’d like to have, I suspect.

This one must win first prize for Most Uninspired Hoarding. Ever. It looks like someone just cut and paste the content from a PowerPoint slide. An extremely bad PowerPoint slide.

But this one from Galliard Homes is my favourite of all. OK, I can see they were out to attract attention – and I assume they had a very specific market in mind. And it is a magazine ad from back in 2003. But that’s 2003, not 1973. What were they thinking?

There’s a serious point lurking in all this: that signage matters. It doesn’t just help or hinder sales and lettings, but reflects on the reputation of those behind the schemes.

This recent article from Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright is interesting on this subject.

Of course it’s easy to be cynical and find fault. And if many of the schemes Wainwright mentions are aimed at overseas buyers – whether he likes that or not – then it’s appropriate that their marketing should be targeted at these audiences.

But his point about the care needed over the content of marketing hoardings is absolutely right.

Sure, you need to illustrate your scheme in a positive, appealing light. But there needs to be some realism and authenticity in this.

Bustling, sunlit scenes of a ‘monocultural society of white thirtysomethings’ who bear no relation to the current or likely demographic of the area make no sense at all.

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