Bowey Homes recognised that it needed strong brand differentiation to make the most of the good years and protect itself when the market toughens. its approach marked it out as the winner of this category, sponsored by Npower

Winner: Bowey Homes

Door handles, towel rails and lighting don’t often get star billing in housebuilders’ advertising campaigns, but Bowey Homes decided to focus on the details as part of its new marketing strategy. Before it created its campaign, the company defined its brand, personality, values, customer benefits and the physical attributes of its product. The objective of the new brand image and marketing campaign were to build trust and create a positive emotional link with its audience. The approach is producing results, with the company reporting that its average selling price has increased at a greater rate than the industry average for the North-east.

Second: Crest Nicholson

This category is intended for businesses rather than individual schemes, but the judges felt that Crest Nicholson deserved special recognition for its bold strategy to change the image of Birmingham’s Attwood Green and reinvent it as Park Central. Local residents helped to rechristen the area, and the new name was promoted using a variety of media including neon signs. The project, which has been undertaken with the help of Birmingham council and housing association Optima Community Housing, sold out its first phase of homes over a weekend, and there is a waiting list for the next release.

Third: Miller Homes

The home-buying process can be an emotional rollercoaster ride and Miller Homes knows just where the highs and the lows occur as a result of its research. It asked 33 customers to keep weekly diaries of their buying experience. Their responses are now influencing its marketing strategy to make home-buying more enjoyable and less stressful. As contract exchange emerged at a particularly stressful time, Miller now sends customers a chill-out CD, and more meetings and communication ensures that buyers feel involved and informed.

Fourth: Mansfield District Council

Moveahead brings together Mansfield district council and eight housing associations to pilot choice-based letting of social housing. The partners brought in marketing agency The Bridge Group to help rebrand social housing and break away from traditional stereotypes and opened a property shop in Mansfield, where people can discuss rehousing options and view available properties. Customer response has far exceeded estimates and the number of empty council homes has been cut dramatically.

Fifth: St George

A glossy magazine is at the heart of St George’s marketing strategy, promoting its homes and maintaining the company’s brand image. Published twice a year, the magazine contains features on lifestyle interests and summarises the company’s schemes in the capital.

Joint sixth: Berkeley Homes

Sister company Berkeley has also tapped into the power of print with a new magazine called New Home, which is produced in partnership with the National Magazine Company. The company is using the magazine to build existing and new customer advocacy, reach new customers, capture additional customer data, and develop a research programme.

Joint sixth: Lovell

Lovell has been offering a low-cost home ownership route for 15 years, but its name, the Resale Covenant, was not buyer-friendly. Increasing demand for key-worker homes and a government drive for more affordable housing spurred the company to refocus the Resale Covenant and re-launch it with a targeted campaign under the new name of Lovell Choice.