If you took a guess, what brand first comes to mind from the image above? You probably guessed it: Coca Cola. Their brand is one of the largest, most iconic brands in the world, and they can be easily recognized from a simple letter. So let’s talk about branding for real estate agents.
As an agent, your brand and visual identity are both critical to your business, but they are two different things. Both terms have been used loosely in the past.
These are some of the most common ways project requests that come our way start with:
“I need to update my logo”
“I need to update my brand”
“My brand identity needs a refresh”
After a brief chat on the phone, real estate agents typically refer to their logo or website when they are looking to “re-brand.” However, your logo and website are not your brand.
Defining Your Agent "Brand"
Your brand as an agent is the way someone feels about you. It’s a deep down gut feeling. It is the emotional connection your clients have toward you. Each time a buyer or seller interacts with your brand, they build a perception of how they feel and think about you as an agent. If you think about your last experience with any brand that was negative, do you trust them as much anymore? Probably not. Over time, your customers create a set of expectations on how each experience with you should be and how they should feel about you. Those thoughts and memories are what build long term trust and loyalty. That’s what you want. That’s gold.
The Three Primary Functions of Brand
1. It Builds Trust
The more trust you build as a real estate agent, the more referrals and clients will come your way. You become irreplaceable in their eyes and there is an unbreakable connection between you and your clients. They will spread the good word about how great you are as an agent and more people will trust you.
2. It Creates Distinction
In this hot market, distinction is key. There is no shortage of agents to choose from. You should stand apart from your competitionーnot blend in. The more distinctive you are from everyone else, the more noticeable you become.
3. It Increases Value
Your service, product, and business become more valuable. Additionallyーif your products or services are meant to be luxury, and you do not exude that feeling as a brand, people will be hesitant to pay a higher price point. They will not see the value. Take Peloton for example: when they raised their bike prices they actually sold more bikes. A lower price point on the bike communicated an inferior machine to consumers.
Peloton is also a great example of building a valuable brand over time. They empower people to connect, to become inspired, and to grow stronger together. They are the leader in their segment, and while their products are expensive, they have built trust and differentiated themselves from others. People believe and connect with their productーthat has fueled their success. After launching in 2012 they are now worth 4 billion dollars.
Defining your “Brand Identity”
Your identity is all of the different touch points someone may see. Your email signature, business cards, yard sign, and your logo are examples of touchpoints. It is an entire system put together that people can see, touch, hear, and feel. This is how you influence the perception of your brand. By changing your perception, you create the brand you want as an agent. But your logo alone is not your “brand-identity.”
Brand Identity Touchpoints
Typically, your logo is the first touchpoint you create, but it’s not the last. A good logo surrounded by a frustrating website experience and disunited collateral and marketing is a recipe for failure. Each touchpoint matters.
Your identity has three primary functions:
1. Identify You
The visual look and feel that you encompass should separate you from the competition. Over time, your customers can immediately look at something and be able to recognize and think of you.
2. Attract Your Desired Clients
It should communicate to the desired clients you are trying to attract. This is key. Your identity cannot always speak to everyone. This is critical if you are a luxury agent trying to attract luxury clients. If your logo and identity do not convey luxury, you risk missing out on clients.
3. Create Visual Consistency
Your identity takes separate elements, and makes them whole by staying consistent through design and messaging. Each part of your brand should be consistent. The moment something is different from the rest, you risk mis-communicating to your audience. This breaks trust and can also be confusing.
The Branding Process
Now that we’ve defined your brand and brand identity, branding is the process that gets the ball rolling. Branding is the ongoing process of developing, or re-developing your overall strategy and touchpoints within your identity. This could be redeveloping your website, logo, collateral, messaging, and your color system. It’s an investment that can help position you for success and growth. Getting started with the branding process may seem overwhelming, but overall it is a very simple process. While the investment is long term, it can pay off in growth of your business. The overall process consists of four systematic stages that vary from business to business.
Your're Just Starting Out
- You just got your license and are getting started.
- You’ve got your first few clients, but are ready to go to the next level.
- You need a facelift as an agent.
- Your service is great, but let’s face it, you look behind the times.
- All of your marketing materials look different.
- You are not attracting your desired clients.
- You need to communicate more clearly who you are as an agent.
Your created a team
- You are no longer representing yourself, but you are now a real estate team with agents under you.
Starting the Branding Process
Getting started with the branding process may seem overwhelming, but overall it’s a very simple process. While the investment is long term, it can pay off in growth of your business. The overall process consists of four systematic stages that vary from business to business.
Before you build a house, you have to have a plot of land and the architectural blueprints of the house you want to build. You would never dive right into picking out decorations or overall style. Your strategy can be defined by answering key questions including:
What is your mission/purpose?
Understanding who you are and your purpose as an agent can give you some key information on the brand you want to build.
How do you want to be seen as an agent?
What is the look/feel and voice/tone you want to have as an agent? Write a list of descriptive adjectives that answer these key pillars and you’ll have a solid foundation to start with.
Who is your target client?
What kind of clients do you want to attract? Luxury? First-time home buyers? A broader audience? By clearly defining who you are trying to target, you can design a brand identity around them and not you.
This is where it all comes together and starts with developing your logo, typography, and color palette.
After you have an established look/feel of the brand from the logo, type, and colors, it’s time to execute all your materials from your yard signs to business cards. This creates that visual consistency you are looking for.
Adapt and pivot where necessary and grow your brand over time.
Why Branding is Worth The Investment
In today’s business world everything moves at lightning speed. That makes it easy to get caught into quick fixes such as a fast logo or website redesign on websites such as Fiverr and UpWork—which can be risky. The strategy and development process typically takes several weeks to a few months depending on the scale of the project at hand. Rushing this process will not provide the results you are looking for.
In the end, doing the branding process right will contribute to the long term rewards of brandingーtrust, distinction, and value. It creates years of competitiveness for your business.
At Radius Agent, we personally work with agents to create their brand look and feel. 98% of consumers choose a real estate agent based on their name and reputation. Why not have your name and brand communicate your look, voice, and tone?