Before we can begin talking about real estate branding more specifically, it would help to know exactly what a brand is from a more general standpoint.
The American Marketing Association defines branding as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Most other definitions consider a brand as the images or ideas that come to mind when thinking about specific products, services and activities of a company—and these aspects of a brand impact on the practical level (such as Publix, for example, being nearby no matter where you live) and the emotional level (“Taco Bell satisfies my craving for cheap, tasty Mexican fast food”).
Therefore, brands aren’t just the physical features of a company, but also the feelings that its customers develop toward the company.
This combination of cues is what makes up a brand, and they may be triggered when customers see the brand’s logo or visual identity, or even when they hear the brand’s message.
Competitors of a particular brand can easily sell the same products, but a brand will always be unique. For example, Nike and Adidas make similar products—but evoke completely different memories and emotions. You’d never hear “Just Do It” and think of Adidas, would you?
Still, some people feel more connected to Nike, and others feel more connected to Adidas.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually very good. It means that both Nike and Adidas have built solid brands that their customers are loyal to. It means they have successful branding.
No matter what industry you’re in, branding is one of the most difficult tasks any business owner has to undertake. And particularly when it comes to real estate, branding can be incredibly difficult to get just right.
Just take a look around your area at the branding of some of the more prominent real estate businesses. What, exactly, differentiates them all?
It likely won’t surprise you that most real estate businesses use the same branding tactics. But unfortunately, this makes them all look the same—they all start to blend together and the differences between them become difficult to spot.
In other words, it’s very challenging for businesses in the real estate industry, specifically, to define what exactly makes them stand out from the crowd.
It’s not a challenge unique to our industry, per se. But it does directly impact real estate brokers and agents in ways many other industries don’t have to worry with. After all, we’re all just in the business of helping our customers buy and sell property, right?
Many real estate agents, over time, begin to specialize on a very specific neighborhood, or only deal with certain types of property exchanges, such as homes or farmland or office spaces, etc.
Let’s take a look at some of the specialties of two local, Orlando-area real estate businesses.
Just from their name alone, this business is specifically geared toward the City of Winter Park. In their about us company description on their website, they also mention that they serve Central Florida.
But Winter Park Land Company is solidly focused on the City of Winter Park. It’s built right into the name.
Mainframe Real Estate has a very unique specialty: a proprietary transaction management software they use for contract management, marketing, property management and more. This makes finding real estate easy for buyers and selling real estate easy for sellers. What more could anyone want?
As you can see, what separates these two real estate agencies from their competition is very unique to their businesses and their businesses alone.
Ask yourself: what is your own business’ specific specialty? What, exactly do you do that nobody else does? Do you focus on a particular area of your city, like Winter Park Land Company? Or maybe, like Mainframe Real Estate, you use a piece of technology that nobody else has?
Knowing the answer to this question is key to defining what your market differentiation will be.
And that’s a massive piece of the branding equation for any real estate business.
Now that you know what separates you from the other real estate professionals in your area—what your specific value proposition is—you should think about who your customers are.
To do so, write down answers these three questions:
Who have my best 5 customers in my career been?
What do these 5 customers all have in common?
What did I offer to them—and what did they offer to me—that made these particular people my best 5 customers? What do they all have in common?
Now, grab a highlighter and highlight at the similarities.
Look at the specifics. Once you see what all your best customers have in common, you’ll have a better idea of what your primary customer profile is like.
And now that you understand who your primary customers are—as well as what differentiates you from your competitors—you can begin crafting your brand in a way that will speak to them and create brand loyalty to you within their minds.
In Part Two of this Real Estate Branding 101 series, we will dive into how you can translate your value to your real estate customers.
In Part Three, we’ll cover how you can do so by building a brand kit—including a logo, visual identity and messaging strategy.
Then, finally, Part Four, we’ll learn about choosing marketing tactics for getting the word out about your brand.
Stay tuned. Real estate branding is a challenging task for anyone to undertake. But in this Real Estate Branding 101 series, we’ll give you plenty of pointers and guidelines that can help you as you seek to refine your branding and keep your customers coming back for more.