Home builders build brand differentiation with Design

Uninspired Living
The home building market in Australia is typified by a bland range of home designs, brought to you by a range of equally undifferentiated businesses. Having worked in the space for a number of clients over the past five years, I would define the market offer as affordable = uninspiring. Whilst there is no cheaper way, and perhaps even no easier way to build your own home,the price you pay is a lack of individuality, and poor and dated design quality. A walk through any display village will reinforce the message, as each house you enter feels almost identical from the one before, down to the last display vase featuring splayed bamboo.

These home builders all have their own brands, we have helped some to define them. But when it comes to product – which is surely one of the most defining expressions of their brand – there is no differentiation or translation of their brand into the homes they build and display. It ‘s as though they’ve all use the same architect to design their homes and the same stylist to prepare them for display.

But times are changing, or at least the industry is catching up with the times.

Inspiration built-in
Recently the offerings of at least two Australian home building companies have begun to deliver on the often heard brand promise of ‘contemporary living’. Working with architects of note and ability, InForm Homes and Intermode Homes have both produced some great looking houses that feel ‘architect designed’ both inside and out, creating a strong sense of differentiation, positioning their new product at the premium end of their market.

The Pod House from InForm

The Pod House from InForm

The Inform Pod House is a collaboration with Melbourne architect Barnaby Chiverton. The house consists of two pods which can be positioned at different angles, or different levels to suit a sloping site. This is the level of customised smarts that’s been missing from the display home market to date. Whilst the ink on the new design for the Pod House is still drying, Inform plan to have a display house open at Mt Martha shortly.

Intermode's contemporary looking abode

Intermode's contemporary looking abode

Design as a premium differentiator
Discussion around the unquestionable value of design to business is gathering speed and importance within the corporate world. A recent Business Review Weekly article stated simply; ‘businesses that utilise good design can stand out from the crowd and show stronger growth and profits’. The British Design Council reported recently that design-oriented companies in the UK outperformed the FTSE 100 Index by more than 200%. As the body of evidence grows weightier-still, it’s nice to see businesses applying the theory, grabbing hold of great design for their products and in so-doing establishing a clearly defined and highly aspirational market differentiation for their brand.

We work with our clients to fuse great design into their brand, it’s products and services. If you’d like to catch-up for an inspiring discussion about how design can work harder for your brand, give us a call or drop us an email.



  1. Brand differentiation using design – who would have thought that within the home building market that design could differentiate. I have never really thought about it much but design i think really gets played down for the masses. Lets see more great work like that of Informs stuff! Affordable and inspiring.

  2. Tim, You’re right, you’d think for a home building brand, design would come standard for the industry. I also agree that the only way to lift the level of design expectation of the clients and customer community is to continue to push for a greater level of aesthetic than the masses demand.

  3. Nice observation The inability of builders to differentiate their product reaches beyond the front door – once you’ve looked around a few homes the interiors blur into one….. come on sell me a dream not a stage setting!

  4. Mal,

    You’ve obviously experienced the joys. For one of our clients in this market we photographed the interiors of their display homes and several of their competitors. We asked the client to point out their interiors. They could pick one of their competitors due to a (horrendous) design feature, but couldn’t pick their own display homes from the pack. If they can’t differentiate their own product, how the hell do they expect their customers to?

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