LAS VEGAS—Key executives recently gathered at the RealShare Student Housing conference here in Las Vegas, a program put on by ALM’s Real Estate Media Group. In one panel, the importance of branding in student housing product came to the forefront.

Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest, told the audience of approximately 200 that his firm now has three brands and have always believed that there is a brand identity. “We see brand recognition among schools, siblings, and parents.”

Rollins adds that there is also some cost savings there from a marketing standpoint as well, and that savings has become even greater as the portfolio has grown.

Donna Preiss, founder and CEO of the Preiss Co., pointed out that “with this demographic, friend referrals and word of mouth is the highest driver for new leases.” Preiss pointed out that it is a demographic that doesn’t like to be sold to. “Your problems become public and viral with social media,” she says, but notes that they also talk about the positives as well…it is a two-way street.

According to William Talbot, EVP of acquisitions at American Campus Communities, “you can build that brand where is goes across markets, but that negativity, as Donna mentioned, also goes across multiple markets as well.”