15 PRINCIPLES OF AUTHENTICITY: MAKING REAL ESTATE REAL
Authentic is defined as “not false or copied;
genuine; real; representing one’s true nature or
beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
Everybody is talking about authenticity. It is mentioned practically on a daily basis in the real estate
world. But authenticity is more than a buzzword
to boost returns. It is a must-have component of
successful placemaking, whether you are creating
resorts, one-off hotels, or full-scale communities.
How do you create authenticity in a project? What
does it look like? How does it feel? That depends
on whom you ask. Every generation views the world
through a different lens—and that includes their interpretation of authenticity. Research shows that millennials value authenticity above practically all else. But
they are not alone. Authenticity makes the list of top
10 values across all generations. And next up is generation Z, already flush with purchasing power and
outnumbering millennials by about a million. As the
first true digital natives, the members of gen Z have
carefully tuned radars for the fake and disingenuous.
Antidote to Artificiality
What do we mean when we talk about authenticity? To me, it is something that feels like it belongs
where it is. It instills that elusive “sense of place”
we all crave. You cannot duplicate it somewhere else
and expect it to work.
Though culture often comes into play, authenticity involves something more. Authenticity could be
reflected in the materials—the way wood or stone is
used—or in the design of a hotel lobby that makes
it a hit with locals. Authenticity is evidenced by capturing the true personality and character of a place
without looking like you are creating a 20th-century
backlot design. If you think you can make a cheap
imitation of something that has been around for
hundreds of years, think again. You are in danger of
making your consumers feel duped.
So how do you go from saying you are authentic
to being authentic? Here are 15 takeaways I have
learned over three decades in the branding and marketing business—and some of the places where they
have proved effective with InterCom® clients.
1. Let Nature Lead
Sometimes, it is more about what you do not build
than what you do build. Take Carneros Resort and
Spa in Napa, California, where the swimming pool
is seamlessly stitched into the Napa Valley scenery.
While guests are lounging on the elevated deck, they
can look out over the rolling hills and vineyards of
the Carneros American Viticultural Area and appreciate that they are in Northern California wine country.
There is something very compelling about that.
2. Create Shared Experiences
Often, people are key to authenticity—especially
when they are insiders. Owners did not end up
buying at 3 Creek Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, just
because of golfing in the Grand Tetons. They love
the fishing concierge and resident naturalist, who
serve as expert liaisons to three world-class, private
trout streams. Whether it is learning the art of single
hand-casting or getting the lowdown on the best
spots to catch cutthroat trout, shared experiences
create an indelible connection to the place.
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3 Creek Ranch recently featured in article by Toni Alexander in Urban Land magazine.