One thing I can’t emphasize enough with our agents is that almost everything we do in our real estate role has the potential to affect people’s perceptions of our brand, both as a company and as individual agents.
Getting into a brand management mindset requires first understanding all the different ways in which you interact with key stakeholders at different points in a real estate transaction. I think checklists are a great way to make sure you’re aware of and addressing all the potential ways your brand may be experienced.
Some of the examples below are more relevant to listing brokers and others to brokers working on behalf of buyers, but most real estate professionals will have had some type of experience with all or most of these. The four primary stakeholders or audience for these brand experiences are:
- Real Estate Consumers (Sellers and Buyers)
- Other Real Estate Professionals (Most Importantly the Cooperating Brokers You Encounter on a Regular Basis in Your Market)
- Vendors (The Key Service Providers – Bankers to Plumbers – Who Help Your Clients and In So Doing Enable You to Provide a Positive Brand Experience)
- The General Public (Folks Who May Not Be Actively Engaged Home Buyers or Sellers But Have Some Awareness of Your Brand. These People are Potential Referral Sources or Future Clients)
Where do these four key audiences most often experience your brand? (And where do you have the opportunity to enhance or diminish it)?
Point of Sale
- For Sale signs
- Sign riders...
One thing that constantly amazes me is when I hear or read about the leaders of real estate firms downplaying the importance of the company/broker brand. The primary implication being that only the individual agent brand really matters. That branding is best left to the folks in the marketing department or, heaven forbid, that the “brand” is some ineffable concept that has no relationship to creating real business value like driving unit and volume growth.
Keller-Williams, likely the fastest growing brokerage in the world at this moment, seem to embrace this line of thinking. And indeed, most KW “For Sale” signs - the foundation of real estate brand marketing – totally emphasize the agent or team’s identity leaving the company name and logo as an afterthought. Make no mistake: Keller-Williams has built a powerhouse brand among real estate agents. In fact, I would argue that the only real brand value KW has is to agents. The primary value proposition of the KW brand is: “We’re the real estate company that shares profits with agents.” Thus far, it’s been a brilliant strategy in terms of recruiting agents and making some of the KW tribe very wealthy.
However, I think if you asked most people in the real estate business or, more importantly, real estate consumers what the KW brand stands for they would look at you with a blank stare. I mean, I know the Christie’s brand stands for “luxury”. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services has made a big Cabernet and Cream bet that Warren Buffett and the BH brand – characterized by “integrity and financial strength” – can extend to selling a gazillon homes a year (in addition to jewelry, insurance and Blizzards®).