After a blizzard in February 2010, a young law student walked out of her apartment at Bellemeade Farms in Leesburg, Va., to find her car blocked by a fallen tree and snow. “I’m freaking stranded here as I wait for Waterton Residential to remove their tree off my car …,” wrote Liz, who does not reveal her last name in her personal blog, “If I don’t hear something soon, I’m going to start making some serious noise.”

Serious noise is exactly what many apartment managers are hearing as residents like Liz share complaints and criticisms on public ­Internet blogs, websites such as, and even social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

A growing number of apartment executives are listening—and responding. To protect their brand names and reputations, many now respond rapidly and professionally to comments online by, for example, improving service issues and systemic problems that lead to negative feedback. And once they fix the service problems, multifamily firms are even publicizing their growing focus on service in their traditional branding efforts, in hopes of getting their own, positive message to the masses.

Traditional Branding Still Matters

Traditional branding—the consistent look and message of a company’s communications—isn’t just about company colors and logos anymore, though those elements still matter. Today, branding encompasses an entire conversation between apartment managers and their customers.