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How to capture what makes your housing organisation unique

By Nicola Winn
March 9, 2022

Five ways to uncover your difference even when you have a shared purpose

We’ve worked with many social housing organisations on brand purpose and strategy over the years. And almost every time, this question comes up – how do we capture what’s unique about us?

We all know that people care about purpose. That’s why we most of us prefer to work for employers that are clear about why they exist and their vision for a better future.

So, given brand positioning is important to attract the right people and communicate the difference you make in a compelling way, what do you do if your purpose is very similar to others?

For example, all social housing providers fundamentally exist to make sure everyone has an affordable home. And to make a positive difference in communities. So, they have a shared purpose.

This means we have to dig a little deeper to find distinction.

My view is that the unique essence and purpose of an organisation is often found in the detail – in the blend of its beliefs, values, strengths, style and personality.

So, if you’ve ever asked the question about what makes you unique as an organisation, here are five areas you can explore to uncover yours:

When you take the time to uncover the difference you want to make, the clarity you find will shine through.

  • Belief – where do you really make a difference? Where do you focus your ambition and how big is it? Think of your ability to create change as a spectrum – where one end is as a landlord with the maximum number of homes, and the other is working with customers to create positive, holistic and behavioural change. Think @PlaceShapers members compared to big housing developers. And where do you sit on the spectrum re your ability to achieve positive change? And how important is collaboration in the mix for you?
  • Values – what are the values of the people who work in your organisation, especially those of the leadership team. Are you known for stability, for ambition for pace or something else? Is there a way of working, or behaving, you’re especially proud of?
  • Geography and communities – is your geography defined? Do you want to serve a certain area? Is there anything different about the types of communities you operate in? Are there patterns in the needs you meet beyond providing housing?
  • Customers – are you a specialist in supporting certain groups of customers eg, families, young people seeking employment, older people with care needs, gypsy and travellers . . . which people are you set up to support best?
  • Personality – what’s your style? Are you an Apple or a Microsoft? A Volvo or a Tesla? How do people describe working with you now? And what would you like them to say? What do you want to dial-up?
    You may have a purpose that’s shared by a movement. But you have something unique to add to that cause.

In your brand positioning.

In your messaging.

And in your legacy.