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The Commercial Value of Differentiation

The Commercial Value of Differentiation

Shane Rothe, Founding Principal, Rothelowman.

By definition, a product without differentiation is a commodity and commodities are rarely sold at a premium.

A project, be it commercial, residential or retail, isn’t about selling space; it’s about selling the intangibles – the opportunities, the lifestyle and the economic prospects these spaces can provide.

Differentiation is most effective via the communication of a compelling design story – a unique selling proposition that enables our clients to distinguish themselves and their products from competitors, entice greater demand and induce a higher return on investment.

The successful communication of atmosphere, ambience and lifestyle is achieved with our in-house design team, who by exploring different possibilities, uncover relevant, emotive and credible design stories. This iterative process achieves a stronger result both in terms of the ideas that are generated and the buy-in they are likely to have amongst the client, town planning authorities, project marketers and eventual buyers. This phase is crucial, and although it must be done quickly, it cannot be rushed as this may result in false economy. Once presented to and approved by the client, the first true opportunity for this story to capture value is with the town planning authority.

The ability to narrate a project’s community benefit is often underestimated. In many cases, it is also important to reduce the client’s project risk by minimising objections from the general public. If the project can be presented in a credible way, with a quality design story and a captivating scheme, it is more likely to result in a better outcome and greater mutual benefit for both the client and the community.

For residential, retail and commercial projects alike, the next audience involves selling/leasing agents and operators in the case of hotels. If the key messages are convincing, the project will attract greater attention from marketers, increasing the opportunity for faster sales and stronger prices. The project will not only look good, it will be underpinned by a legitimate narrative that consumers will identify with in favour of other projects put to market. It is clear that with a compelling story, projects have a stronger driving force that will last the distance. Communicating these messages effectively will lead to successful differentiation and result in an outcome worthy of repetition.

Habitat is a prime example of a project that leverages site context as the basis for its design story. The development’s aesthetics, materiality and functionality are each informed by the narrative that has been created around a sound wave. The result is a truly unique and engaging façade that translates through to the building’s interiors.