Image of two people sat on a bench, depicting retired people for our branding for retirement developers blog

In our recently published book, Brand Relevance, we delve into the secrets of building enduring brands. We’re thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Alastair Pegg, Group Marketing Director at McCarthy Stone.

The following interview promises valuable insights for anyone interested in brand strategy and senior marketing leadership.

Reflecting sense of passion for a purpose 

As you might expect from a company which came up with the concept of building retirement living developments in the UK, the group marketing director of McCarthy Stone, Alastair Pegg, isn’t interested in re-inventing any wheels. 

“You want me to describe what a brand means to me?” he muses. “I always go to a quote by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who summed it up well. It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. 

“The corporate identity, the logo, is what you wear, not who you are. I think of a brand as a being. It’s how you behave and how people relate to that.”

The corporate identity, the logo, is what you wear, not who you are. I think of a brand as a being. It’s how you behave and how people relate to that.

“For an awful lot of organisations though, it’s really still about the graphic, which misses the essential intricacies, the DNA of the brand. The brand should exude values and that is what enables an organisation to draw people to it and build trust. 

“What’s interesting is that there are companies which will talk about internal and external values as separate entities, but I see them as one set, the cornerstone of the business and when you get that right, your internal culture and thinking represents in a unified way what your brand should be reflecting to the outside world. 

“So I think it is essential to align the internal, which traditionally belonged to HR, and the external, whose home is usually marketing, into one single entity, representing what the whole organisation is, rather than different departments. I would say it is essential if a brand is to have potency. 

“And a company’s values and its brand values should be the same. If there are differences, it’s because values have become departmentalised.” 

‘At the heart of a brand there needs to be a real passion for its purpose and what it stands for,” says Pegg. “For our business, that is being able to change the narrative in order to be the champions of our customers. Retirement living is not understood in the UK as it is in the United States or Australia where it is seen as an intrinsic element of the customer’s property journey. It’s not about nursing homes or God’s waiting room. It’s enabling people to continue to live the life they want. It’s about peace of mind, being in a more appropriately sized property for their needs. 

“The most common feedback from our customers is that they wish they had done it earlier, because of the functional benefits of fixed costs and being part of a community.” 

“We maintain our brand values because we not only build each development but since 2010 we have managed them as well,” explains Pegg. “Our retirement living communities are aimed at those aged sixty and above, and our retirement living plus at people aged seventy and above as these properties come with the option of tailored support and staff on-site twenty-four hours a day. Our average customer is somewhere between seventy and eighty.” 

But communicating a sense of purpose, the proposition, isn’t linear for McCarthy Stone. ‘Our brand also needs to have resonance with friends and family who will have a massive part to play because the purchaser will be looking to them for reassurance, that they are making the right decision,” says Pegg. 

“So the brand proposition of peace of mind is not just for the purchaser but for their friends and family so they know the person is going to be safe and happy. But the proposition is the same while we are talking to different audiences.” 

And Pegg is batting for both when he suggests that some of the basics of brand communication have been compromised in the shift to digital. 

“Designers can have a tendency to make the text too small, and it isn’t patronising to say you need people to be able to read something without it being a struggle,” he suggests. 

“Typefaces need to be clear and legible as well as distinctive, and the effective use of colourways to bring the visual representation of the brand to life can’t be underestimated. McCarthy Stone is a premium product and colouring has to reflect that.” 

According to Pegg, a brand will need updating and refreshing but that should come from understanding the customer, which both validates and makes the introduction of significant change seem natural and obvious. And he needs only point to the McCarthy and Stone brand becoming McCarthy Stone. 

“Brand templates need to be in place to deploy any change consistently,” he says, “but a company should be relaxed about introducing it right across the board straightaway. 

“Not every business will have the resource to change everything overnight, and for example it makes no sense to worry about replacing on day one signage which few people are going to see. Implementation should take place with what I call forward consistency. 

“But the starting point for all this has to be how you define what your business is. For us, it’s not developing retirement living property but allowing people to continue to be independent, to carry on living their lives to the maximum. And that definition is the basis of our brand.” 

Take the Next Step

Ready to unlock the secrets of building enduring brands?

Download your free copy of our brand new book, Brand Relevance, and gain the insights needed to craft a powerful brand strategy. In Brand Relevance, you’ll discover:

  • Core Principles: Define your brand’s core values and purpose.
  • Strategic Alignment: Align your internal and external brand messaging for maximum impact.
  • Stakeholder Resonance: Create a brand that resonates with all your stakeholders, from customers to employees.
  • Actionable Guidance: Implement proven techniques with real-world case studies.

Don’t wait! Download your free copy of Brand Relevance today and take control of your brand narrative.

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