Brand: Modern Realty Transfers’ Iconic Dimension

51 Real Property, Trust & Estate L. J. 23 (2016)

84 APPRAISAL J. 300 (Fall, 2016)

33(6) GPSOLO 76 (Nov.-Dec. 2016)

Arizona Summit Law School Paper Series 2016-A-01

18 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015 Last revised: 25 Apr 2017

See all articles by Michael N. Widener

Michael N. Widener

Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Date Written: December 8, 2015


Branded real estate projects are better positioned in marketing circles than equivalent projects lacking iconic associations like "Trump [development type]." Real estate today is a consumer product in one seminal respect. Brand reflects upon the lifestyles of persons shopping, eating, working and sojourning in a distinctive place. Development projects today brand to differentiate themselves from other places and to message to their potential shoppers, consumers, tenants or owners what it's like to engage in a dynamic environment or to enjoy the creative energy of like-minded occupants or the surrounding neighborhood. Messaging speaks volumes about the image and reputation of a commercial property – and affects the developer's expected value as well as the momentum of the project's lease-out or "unit" sales. Brand creates an emotional, visceral connection with shoppers, travelers, workers or whomever is the target of the "experience" narrative.

Such vital components of those images and messages that cumulatively constitute the "brand" of a real estate development must accompany ownership or occupancy of the project. This paper identifies today's critical branding elements, discusses how in this digital age they are registered (possessed) by their creators, and how (and why) future rights to use those elements must be secured by the buyer or the ground tenant – whomever will be the transferee of all or portions of the physical project. As new means of expression such as Memes and GIFs, followed by emoticons, populate the branding realm, the practitioner must stay on her toes to advise transferees of their burdens of due diligence where brand elements are implicated and tasks for securing rights in these brand elements. This paper suggests the proper path to transferees' ongoing rights to control existing branding beyond the time of closing on the concurrent real property transaction.

Keywords: brand, branding, brand messaging, consumer preference, prosumer, real estate development, image, trademark, copyright, trade secret, reputation, intellectual property, Memes, GIFs, software code, source code, object code

JEL Classification: K00, K11, K2, K20, K22, M3, M31 O3, O32, O34, R33, Z13

Suggested Citation

Widener, Michael N., Brand: Modern Realty Transfers’ Iconic Dimension (December 8, 2015). 51 Real Property, Trust & Estate L. J. 23 (2016); 84 APPRAISAL J. 300 (Fall, 2016); 33(6) GPSOLO 76 (Nov.-Dec. 2016); Arizona Summit Law School Paper Series 2016-A-01. Available at SSRN: or

Michael N. Widener (Contact Author)

Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint ( email )

2325 East Camelback Road
Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85016
United States

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ( email )

Prescott, AZ 86301
United States

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