This article was originally published on Realtor.com:
In the real estate world, we talk a lot about the branding that comes from our organizations. We call ourselves Coldwell Banker or RE/MAX agents because of the brokerages we’ve associated ourselves with. We are Realtors when we affiliate with the NAR, and we have all kinds of designations like Women’s Council of Realtors, Accredited Buyer’s Representatives, 1% Club, Diamond Society, and so on.
These are all great bylines. They show consumers that you are a professional, worthy of being admitted to — or being a graduate of — a reputable organization. They support the idea that you have a solid base of credibility in your industry.
However, these credentials don’t distinguish you from the masses of others with the same designations. They are not your personal brand.
Personal Branding Requires Differentiation
Personal branding defines you, your company or your team as unique from your industry associates. The goal of branding is to set you apart from the pack.
To differentiate successfully, you must know the imminent needs of a consumer and your personal ability to satisfy one or more of those needs in a superior way. Not every agent can be the top salesperson in town, but each can find their own branding niche: dog-friendly agent, houseboat sales team, modern design brokerage, stone-cold investment-negotiation expert. Then find visual guidelines and a business process to inform your specific customers that you are the right professional for their needs.
Start With Simplicity
If you decided in the last 10 seconds that you are the Condo Cat Lady in Cleveland, don’t rush out and paint your car like a Siamese just yet. A good personal brand should start with considering how your branding niche will be perceived by the public. Are you flashy, edgy, comforting or sophisticated? Does that fit the consumer base you’re looking for?
Once you’ve decided on the feel of your brand, you can move on to logos, fonts, colors and graphics that fit the theme and relate it to your customers. Keep it simple. It’s easy to add complexity later, but it’s hard to fix what you’ve previously cluttered. In most cases, consumers will recognize a brand more often when it is simple and clear.
After developing your branding strategy, make sure it is carried out across all platforms. The theme and emotion of your personal brand should inform every piece of marketing: flyers, yard signs, business cards, social media profiles and so on. When your customer pulls up your website after seeing it on your business card, their eyes should easily flow between the two. When they drive by your listing later and see the sign, you’ll know you’ve done your job if they recognize the sign before they can even read the words.
Work the Way You Brand
Wouldn’t it be disappointing to hire a buttoned-down, upscale agent based on his website, only to have him show up on a motorcycle and ask you to get on back? Would you want to visit rural equestrian properties with a high-heeled agent in a two-seater? If you’ve defined your brand correctly, it should conform to the person you are in your work sphere. Clients want truth in advertising and feel comfortable when the professional they meet is the same one they saw advertised.
Follow the Examples of Others
Many real estate companies have used unique personal branding strategies, so learn from their example as you’re developing your brand.
For instance, take one glance at Christophe Choo‘s branding in Beverly Hills, and you know that he sells luxury real estate. The opulence of the background image, the bravado of the video and the sophisticated logo give the viewer an immediate upscale feel.
On a totally different stage, Wild West Properties in Colorado promotes a feeling of comfort, space and country living. Robert A. Joslen looks like the kind of guy you’d trust to sell you a mountain home, and the branding surrounding him fits his style perfectly.
Branding can also focus on a business’s or team’s style or abilities as opposed to an individual’s. Our Seattle real estate team’s success has come from focusing on what buyers have told us they want for the past 15 years: the easiest-to-use, most complete home-search database in Seattle. We’ve found that first-time buyers and relocation buyers from all over the world are looking for a trusted source of homes first, and an agent second. Our marketing features our team, but much more subtly than it promotes our primary focus: home search.
We focus on telling the home buyer: This is the only company you need. We’re experienced and successful and can fulfill your needs. Call us when you’re ready. With such a laid-back approach, we have to be ceaselessly consistent with our branding across marketing, websites, mobile apps and other outlets to keep reminding our customers that SeattleHome.com is the same reliable company serving their needs.
Define Your Assets, Depict Them, Propagate Them, and Work Within Them
The steps in personal branding are actually fairly simple. They just require a professional to take a healthy chunk of time away from the usual work week and focus solely on the direction of the company.
When your unique skills match a relevant consumer need, all that remains is to design an image that transfers that message to your customers, and spread it throughout your marketing and business practices. There is plenty of legwork involved, but the long-term consumer recognition and repeat business make it worthwhile.