The Marq Rebrand

Case Study

Catalyst was engaged to complete a rebranding of 2040 Lofts, a newly acquired student housing property that was negatively associated as the “international house” among Marquette University students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The target market for the property was primarily college students (18- to 24-year-olds) in Milwaukee, WI, attending Marquette University, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Art Institute.

Traditionally, the property leased to affluent students attending Marquette and the surrounding local universities, but in the past year, international students accounted for nearly 23% of the residents. This took a toll on the property’s leasing numbers and caused a negative sentiment in the marketplace. Additionally, the property was in an older medical building that was converted to student housing. Minimal upgrades resulted in the property feeling old, while students were seeking a new and modern property in their apartment search. Upon assessment of the property and due to the new ownership, Catalyst determined that rebranding the property and incorporating some remodeling in common areas would allow 2040 Lofts to be reintroduced into the marketplace and change current perceptions of the property. A site visit and student intercepts revealed that customers in the marketplace desired upgraded amenities and high-speed Internet.

Upon meeting with the interior design company performing upgrades to the common areas, it was determined that the property needed to be presented to the market with a fresh brand. After conducting surveys on a variety of names, The Marq was chosen. A new website was designed and developed, new print collateral was created, and new signage was designed.

To introduce The Marq to the Milwaukee market, Catalyst promoted a VIP party to be held at the property prior to the start of the 2014 school year. The new brand was teased in direct mail invitations, email invitations and reminders, and social media posts, all of which drove traffic to an RSVP landing page for the event. Of the approximately 250 people who attended the event, 51 signed leases and another 87 leases were pending guarantor paperwork at the end of the night. The event allowed The Marq to kick off their leasing season with nearly 21% of their beds leased at the VIP event, an increase of 13% from where they were in 2013 at the same time in the leasing season.

Since the reveal party, The Marq has consistently stayed ahead of their leasing goals and out-performed their numbers from the previous year. By the end of 2014, they were 54% pre-leased, compared to only 30% pre-leased in the same time period in 2013. Catalyst, in conjunction with The Marq’s on-site leasing team, has achieved great results for the 2015–2016 school year as ripples from this campaign continue to boost numbers. By the end of 2016, the property was up from 2015 by 23.64%. The effective rental rate increased 3.1%, from $674 for 2014-15 AY to $695 for 2015-16 AY, rising above the $690 pro forma effective rate for 2015-16 AY. Occupancy increased from 80.17% in fall 2014 to 96.36% in fall 2015 for a total gain of 16.2%.

Creative for The Marq rebrand included naming, a tagline, a logo, property signage, interior design collaboration, a mood board, a brand guide, a paper system, a marketing brochure, a website, a sales sheet, a launch party, social media collateral, email campaigns, and more.

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