There is one truism in creating and building a real estate brand: One size does not fit all. There is no magic checklist or software program that will produce a perfect real estate brand… because smart branding is both science and art. The science is making sure your company can be found (physically, yes, but also your website and social media). The art is creating a brand that allows you to be selected over your competitors. In the crowded field of real estate professionals, having a brand that stands out from the rest is no small accomplishment, but doing so will give you a leg up on your competition.
Not Just Branding… Smart Branding
Continuing on the one-size-does-not-fit-all mantra, there are several different types of real estate companies—ranging from individual agents to giant companies like Century 21 and BHS (more on these two below). Branding for each of these entities is very different. For example, a new or individual agent should probably spend more time increasing their online and social media presence rather than on developing their logo. In contrast, a giant like Century 21 would focus on several branding initiatives all at the same time. But where to begin?
The First Step In Smart Branding Is… Throw Out The Checklists!
The internet is flooded with branding advice slogans such as: You must be bold! You must be honest! You must be authentic! You must be creative! You must use bright colors! And the list goes on and on… STOP. Trying to develop a brand using these guidelines is putting the proverbial horse before the cart… and a recipe for disaster. To save time and resources, smart branding starts with this first question:
Who Are You, And What Do You Want To Be?
Before you can be authentic and creative, a company should conduct a self-evaluation. This starts by assessing exactly what you do and how you envision your company in the future. Starting here assures that your brand will capture your company’s core values. However, this is no easy task because these questions are also constantly evolving. Your company may be very different now from the company it was 10 years ago. And, what it wants to be in the future could look very different from its present self. Looking into the mirror and doing an honest and critical self-evaluation about your company’s strengths and weaknesses can go a long way in developing a customized and authentic brand. For example, if you see yourself serving more millennials in your area, your brand might want to communicate to millennials directly. Starting with this initial question in brand development allows for an endless number of possibilities to create a brand that is authentic to your company’s core values, desires and future mission.
Understanding Your Community
Having a big city skyline on your business cards might not go over well if you’re trying to sell country estates. In the real estate industry, understanding the market demographics and consumer base in your community is a key factor in developing a brand. Just as there are different types of properties to be sold, buyers these days are also just as diverse. There is a big difference between a first-time home buyer and someone seeking a vacation home. Further, the demographics of the community you serve may be changing. You should absolutely consider the reasons why people are moving into the area, and what makes your community attractive. How are the schools? What annual events take place? How about restaurants in the area? Universities and child care opportunities may or may not be important to the community you serve. Understanding not only who is in your community, but also what they desire, will provide you with valuable information about your clientele. All this data should provide a roadmap to creating a brand that will resonate and communicate to the customers you wish you reach.
A Brand Is Only As Good As Its Current Value
A brand’s value is similar to a stock on the Dow Jones. Some brands gain value, while others lose it. Rebranding can be the great equalizer… and rebranding in the real estate market is a hot topic. As our country evolves from the baby boomers to post-millennials, branding strategies are changing to accommodate the shifting demographics. The amount of information millennials process today is at an all-time high, which means old branding tactics simply won’t work. Two real estate conglomerates have taken the concept of rebranding to heart: Luxury residential real estate brand Brown Harris Stevens (BHS) recently underwent a full makeover with its brand. Now, BHS is associated with “Bold Honest Smart.” Century 21 also changed its logo in an effort to brand the company as a more modern and hip real estate company. Gone are the old brown Century 21 signs many of us remember… Now it’s “C21” with a sleek and sexy new logo. Remember, initiating a self-evaluation and answering the “who are you, and what do you want to be” questions will go a long way in saving you time and money in your branding or rebranding efforts. After all, this is your business presence… your creation…and your brand should reflect who you are directly to your prospective customers. Armed with this initial framework, the creative side of branding can flow organically, and the possibilities for your company brand will be authentic and unique. And now it’s time to be bold and creative!
where ideas take flight