Ask Denise: To Brand or Not To Brand | The Zebra Blog

Ask Denise: To Brand or Not To Brand

Q: “Denise, I have been thinking about developing a brand with your company, but when I talked to my managing broker about it, she strongly encouraged me to not develop a brand and to instead use the materials the company provides. She didn’t say I outright couldn’t, but the impression I was left with was that I wouldn’t be a team player if I pursued it. I do feel it is the right move for my business, but now I feel stuck. What should I do?”

A: This is not the first time I have heard this question. The first thing I would do in your position is to get clarity from your broker about what is and is not allowed by your company standards. For example, many brokerages won’t allow a personal-branded business card or signage, so it is best to learn specifics about what it and is not allowed up front.

Once you understand specifics, I would approach your broker again with not an adversarial approach, but a collaborative one. You know the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey…”? That applies here. You can refer to my conflict resolution formula to develop your own plan or you are welcome to follow my proposed plan below.

First, start by indicating you understanding your broker’s position on the matter:

I am following up on our conversation the other day regarding my developing a personal brand. I heard your concerns. What I took away from our discussion is that you want cohesion as a company and you are concerned that my developing a brand will take away from that. You are also concerned that if I develop a brand then others might want to develop a brand as well which causes further lack of cohesion. Do I understand your concerns?  

Give your broker a chance to offer additional information since you want this to be a two-way street.

Next, offer your point of view:

I understand your concerns. My biggest challenges come when I am competing against one of our own agents at a listing presentation or mailing to a neighborhood. I don’t have materials that are customized to me and therefore, we all seem the same. What I am proposing is an evolution of what we already have established as a company. I want to use our company materials, but also want to develop my own. Everything I create will include the company brand elements as well as my own. My goal is to increase my business as a result of having my own brand and materials which in turn benefits everyone.

Then if she still balks, but doesn’t say you can’t, be clear about your intentions, but be kind.

Just so I am clear, you aren’t saying I can’t pursue my own brand, but you are advising against it. Are there any consequences I should be aware of?  I am not trying to be difficult, but this is something that is very important to me and my business and I want to make sure I understand what to expect.

This way you are being firm but are also showing that you don’t mind knowing where the line is.  Then you can close collaboratively:

I hope you know that as my managing broker, I support you and the company and I know you support me and my business. As my brand and materials are developed, I do want to run them by you to make sure I am in compliance with the Department of Licensing and the MLS. I value your opinion.

You can even document your discussion in a follow-up email for your records.

Good luck! If you need further help with this, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to working with you!

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