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If you live or drive around the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town, you probably would have seen the work of Blok.  They are an off-plan property development company who wraps their construction sites with large, impactful branded billboards.

Contentum is always on the look-out for interesting and well-executed content examples, especially if it wasn’t done by us! We first noticed their well-designed magazines, one for each development, at a popular coffee shop in Sea Point. Each magazine is beautifully laid out, printed on high quality paper with a square-back bind that makes it look more like a top-end magazine than a promotional brochure, but it was the engaging storytelling style of the content that impressed us most.

We were interested to meet the brains behind this innovative approach. Lior van Embden, who is responsible for Sales & Marketing at Blok, shares her take on how to stand out from the clutter.

Lior tells us that their market research confirmed that developers almost always tended to sell from the outside looking in, i.e. a typical product-and-price offering.  Creative and innovative thinking was needed to replace this traditional and often, tired approach in order to appeal to their target audience in a new and convincing way.

Blok wanted to change the way people perceive their business as a property development company.  Their strategy involved the use of highly emotive designs combined with beautiful photography, taken by a fashion photographer, to create the styled look they envisioned for their magazines.

People and Communities – Knowing your Target Market

With their commitment to work from the inside out, Blok’s brand team was central to articulating their vision. They are a close-knit, creative network of family and friends who are colleagues second and friends first. They spend a lot of time talking and brainstorming and even more time listening to feedback from clients as well as specifically asking for it. “This is where the journey has to start”, she emphasises.

The first development was constructed in Sea Point and in such a dense and diverse community, “the key is to provide value in an exclusive lifestyle package with an urban living solution”, says Lior. This is reflected in the fact that a minimum of 75% of their buyers are owner-occupiers.

Blok has found that people are increasingly interested in living in urban environments.  Sea Point is safer than it has been in years and with the injection of new, trendy businesses and coffee shops has changed the way the community interacts with this suburb. As a longstanding Sea Point resident, Lior says she walks everywhere – to work, to coffee shops, to yoga and on the promenade.  She calls it “plugging into the community”.

Lior credits people like Councillor Jacques Weber, who is having a huge impact in Sea Point through his can-do attitude and dynamic, hard-working contribution to the community. The City of Cape Town has also been progressive and strategic in implementing policies such as the pro-densification policy.

Blok has been involved in a number of community developments such as investing in upgrading Thornhill park opposite their development in Green Point, participating in the leading edge License Plate Recognition (LPR) programme with a view to combating crime in Cape Town. Next in line is the installation of a charging station for electric cars in partnership with BMW, another brand that fits perfectly into Blok’s vision.

Blok has carefully identified design and interior partners who fit well with their brand so they can continue to tell a consistent brand story to interested buyers. In addition to BMW, designer furniture brands such as Weylandts and Pierre Cronje were natural choices along with Smeg appliances. These furniture brands are committed to assist buyers in selecting the best designer furniture for each room and apartment according to size, layout and orientation. Smeg appliances, on the other hand, tell a story of quality, luxury and design that is universally understood.

The Language of Trust – Content and Storytelling

Blok realised their most challenging task upfront: to find innovative ways to build and earn the trust of their community and potential buyers. To that end, they have taken prime exhibition space in Sea Point’s Regent Road where clients can view and walk around in beautiful room layouts. Clients can also experience each available apartment by exploring the space through an impressive, user-friendly app displayed on a large flat screen in the office. This app is owned by Blok and presents a 3D solution to experiencing the living space without being inside. They have successfully combined graphic imagery and building plans to appeal to multiple personalities and creative aptitudes. Clients are invited to explore the space without being pressured or harassed by a sales person.

Blok also created video content in animated format, produced by 3D artists to bring the developments to life, plus they actively connect with potential buyers through their website and selected social media channels such as Twitter for content and Instagram for visuals.

This team prides themselves on their ongoing content production cycle, most of it produced in-house through a dedicated public relations consultant and a team who is happy to put their thoughts on paper.

The promotional magazines are well-written and designed, which is so strategically sensible, that anybody can enjoy as a good read. Each magazine follows a similar format, starting off with information about the company and their people which establishes credibility and transparency, and helps to foster trust. This is followed by product information with clear apartment and room layouts. Each magazine is then completed by a section tailored to the neighbourhood of the specific development which includes insightful stories about people and business that have become part of the fibre of the community, a profile of ‘neighbourhood heroes’, a detailed map of the neighbourhood that highlights all the parks, key shops and businesses, schools and other landmarks to illustrate the value of the community around the development. One is left feeling that when you buy an apartment from Blok, you are buying into rich and diverse community.

Blok has also been contributing to external publications by syndicating both branded and non-branded content on topics like the MyCiti business (Cape Town’s public transport busses), yoga, Cape Town as an events city, architecture, interior design, urban transport and mobility, skateboarding, green building design and more.

We love your work and look forward to seeing your next move, Blok. Thanks to Lior van Embden for so generously sharing their story with us. See www.blok.co.za for more information about this dynamic company.