flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

Schell Brothers' Unique Approach to Brand-Building

billboard - default
Builder of the Year

Schell Brothers' Unique Approach to Brand-Building

The home builder understands the difference between marketing and branding and leans heavily into the latter

By James McClister, editor December 8, 2023
Home builder Schell Brothers' Coffee House employee, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Schell Brothers' branding efforts in the community include a café that serves up happiness seven days a week in Rehoboth Beach. | All images: courtesy Schell Brothers

What stands out about Schell Brothers’ product marketing is that there isn’t much of it—at least in the traditional sense for production home builders. The company doesn’t need it. Its brand is strong enough.

“Branding is way more powerful than marketing,” says CEO Chris Schell, who defines branding as “creating a positive association to your company.” 

And so it is, thanks to a culture that favors storytelling and engagement over conventional calls to action. The company’s commercials don’t sell homes, they show off happy living. Its billboards don’t advertise discounts, they count down the days to Christmas. 

One of the company’s biggest community outreach initiatives, Project Kudos, may not directly generate leads but does support local charities and promotes “telling someone they’re amazing and feeling awesome about it,” Chris says. 

Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year, Schell Brothers, Project Kudos notes

For two decades, Schell Brothers has gone to great lengths to demonstrate its values and has since been fueled by big initiatives led by marketing director Alyssa Titus. 

A local business owner before joining Schell, Alyssa staffed an in-house photo and video team to produce brand-focused content, launched a biannual lifestyle magazine, and expanded the company’s culture by taking Project Kudos from an in-house program to involving the community at large. 


She also spearheaded Schellville (shown, below), initially a handful of miniature Christmas-themed buildings within the city’s Winter Wonderfest charitable fundraiser. An unfortunate break with its organizer blossomed into Schellville’s Enchanted Winter Celebration (pictured, below), featuring a white-as-ice roller-skating rink, a local artisans market, a cozy bar for adults, live music, Santa (of course!), and an ever-growing collection of miniature buildings and different activities. 

Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year, Schell Brothers, Schellville holiday village lights
Schellville, a free-admission winter wonderland hosted by Schell Brothers, offers a range of fun holiday activities for families, with food, music, and festive lights to spark some joy.

The result: big smiles, happy memories, and funds for local charities. “On a big night, Schellville may get up to 8,000 visitors,” Alyssa says.

Everyone is encouraged to get in on the act with Schell-branded swag, including a generous gift box for new homeowners and a starter kit for new hires in a box labeled: Life is Short. Work Somewhere Awesome. “You name it, we’ve probably branded it,” Alyssa says, from T-shirts to beach towels, stickers, chip clips, and tape measures.

The builder’s branding even extends to its commitment to high-quality, high-performance construction via a comprehensive program cleverly called Schellter. There’s also The Coffee House, a popular café on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, which serves as a more subtle branding effort.

Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year, Schell Brothers, Coffee House cafe in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Subtle branding in the community: The Coffee House is a Rehoboth Beach café powered by Schell.

Cost is rarely a factor for any of these initiatives. “We don’t really budget for it,” Chris says, having built a personal brand for saying yes to anything that brings happiness to someone.

Though it’s difficult to directly tie Schell Brothers’ branding efforts to the builder’s sharp increase in revenue since 2015, a more reliable indicator may be the company’s reputation among homebuyers. Roni Wilyter and her family vacationed in Rehoboth Beach for several years before deciding to move there. By then, they’d been indoctrinated in Schell’s brand and went straight to the builder for their new home. Roni is now a brand ambassador for Schell, one of a growing number of buyer volunteers spreading the gospel of happiness on the builder’s behalf.

The brand also has inspired a flood of folks wanting to work for housing’s happiest builder. “As much as I like to think I’m good at recruiting, the bottom line is we mostly get unsolicited inquiries and referrals,” says Sarah Tezak, the company’s human resources director. 

Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year, Schell Brothers, welcome kit for new employees
Schell's new-employee welcome kit.


leaderboard2 - default

Related Stories

Business Management

Built on Happiness: Meet Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

Builder of the Year

The Pulse of Schell Brothers: the Software at the Heart of the Home Builder's Business

Schell's Heartbeat software platform holds the key to improving the homebuying experience for the home builder's customers and helping the business run smoothly

Builder of the Year

Coffee-Worthy: Schell Brothers' Personal Connection With Customers

How Schell Brothers, Pro Builder's 2023 Builder of the Year, connects on a personal level with homebuyers

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

NAHB Chairman's Message: In a challenging business environment for home builders, and with higher housing costs for families, the National Association of Home Builders is working to help home builders better meet the nation's housing needs

Sure there are challenges, but overall, Pro Builder's annual Housing Forecast Survey finds home builders are optimistic about the coming year

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.