By Denise Lones M.I.R.M., CSP
A new client of mine was recently approached by her broker. He didn’t understand why the agent hired me to do “branding”. His comment? “Why do you need to spend money on that? We have company marketing materials that you can use.”
Sound familiar? I bet it does. Many agents and brokers believe that all you ever need is generic company-supplied marketing materials. So, why is it so important for you to have your own “brand identity”?
Well, first of all, let’s define brand identity.
Image + Message = Brand Identity
What do you think of when someone says “Aflac”? I’ll bet it’s a duck. How do I know this? Because the advertising campaign for Aflac Insurance has ingrained in our heads the image of a duck saying “Af-lac!”
What this large and previously unknown insurance company did was to make everybody aware of its presence—with a duck! Seriously, who ever heard of Aflac before? I bet you didn’t know it was founded in 1955. But find me one person who hasn’t heard of it now.
McDonald’s has its arches. Geico has its gecko. Target has its red & white bulls-eye. And the list goes on.
People remember visual images. They work. They’re successful at keeping the company “top of mind”.
So what does this have to do with you? As an agent, you face a ton of fierce competition. There are probably hundreds – if not thousands! – of agents in your marketplace.
Tell me, how many of those agents are branded? Sure, there are the well-known real estate companies with easily identifiable images. But how many individual agents have taken the extra step to uniquely brand themselves?
Truth is, agents who invest in branding get more clients. Look at me and my zebras. For years, I’ve used zebra stripes as my brand. Then, I added a “safari” theme to all my marketing. My advertising is unique and effective because of it. People remember me.
But branding is more than just pretty pictures or a mascot.
Your brand identity must communicate what makes you the best person to do business with. There must be a message that supports the brand.
Let’s go back to McDonald’s. The arches make you think about hamburgers—but much more than that. You can buy a McDonald’s hamburger in South Bend, Indiana and you can pretty much bet it is exactly like the one you had in Fresno, California. McDonald’s has built its reputation on consistency.
Whether you think it’s a good product or not, it’s definitely consistent. You know exactly what you’re going to get—and you can count on it to be the same almost every time.
So how about you? What do people get from working with you? Consistency? Expertise? Valuable real estate market information? Your custom branding must clearly deliver your unique message.
But back to your company’s marketing materials. If you have a company which has created a strong, recognizable brand you’d be foolish not to take advantage of that.
For example, I used to work for RE/MAX. I used the RE/MAX logo in all my marketing. I would have been crazy not to. RE/MAX has a stellar reputation and the very fact I was a part of it boosted my own image. But I combined it with my own visuals and message.
It was a “one-two” punch!
When you combine your personal brand with that of your company it’s the best of both worlds. Not only are you letting people know that you are a part of a responsible and respectable organization, you are also making sure they know you are not just another agent within that organization.
Your company has figured out the power of branding, and the importance of applying their brand and look to everything they do. So, take a page from their book! Create the brand of “you”. Leverage your company’s brand by including their name on your marketing materials, but create your own special image. After all, your big powerhouse company has thousands and thousands of agents who all appear exactly the same to potential clients. You’d better figure out a way to stand out in that crowd!
Remember: there’s nothing wrong with the marketing materials from your company. But if you want to skyrocket your business, a strong and personal brand identity will make you stand out in a sea of competition.