Your brand, your voice...


It is the beginning of 2018 and you’re all working through your plans and goals for the upcoming year, right? If developing a brand is still on your “to do” list, you are in luck. I’ve compiled some helpful information for your next steps...

When I was a new broker (and a young broker), I had a grand total of zero sales in the first six months of business. I didn’t have an identity, I didn’t have my systems in order and I didn’t have a plan. 

However, I started to look around at successful businesses and noted they all had something in common: a brand. Sure, I had my company brand, but I was a vivacious Greek girl and didn’t fit into my company branding box. I needed something different. So, I dug deep and summoned my spirit animal—a zebra, of course. The zebra became my brand along with a color palette of red, black, white, and gray. I added a custom signature and voila! Although the zebra brand has evolved over the years, it worked brilliantly for my real estate business and it is still working for my business today. I am recognized as The Zebra Lady near and far. 

Developing that brand and getting my systems in order allowed me to sell 22 homes my second six months in the business and launched me into top producer status not long thereafter. 

Here are a few questions I get from brokers who are determining their next brand development steps:

What does a brand consist of?

Contrary to popular belief, a brand is so much more than just a logo, but a logo can be a great starting point. A brand consists of a color palette, fonts, textures, design elements, photography, your photo, and a memorable name treatment (like a logo). 

Denise, my company has materials. Can’t I just use their brand and put my photo and contact info on it? 

Of course you can. In fact, many brokerages require that brokers use certain materials consistent with their company, such as business cards, signage, etc. You should absolutely follow your brokerage requirements when it comes to that. However, when you are at a listing presentation with another broker from your office, how will you compete if you have the same brand and materials? If you don’t have materials that set you apart, you will be shopped based on price and by price, I mean the market price you ascertain in your CMA and what you charge for commission. 

How does developing a brand help with developing systems?

Once you have your brand completed, you should ask yourself what it gets applied to. Usually a broker decides on the basics such as a house flyer, just listed card, notecard, and whatever other materials they use on a day-to-day basis. Once those are built, you can start looking at other things that are missing from your business—perhaps a listing presentation leave-behind, postcards for a farm area, or even your REALTOR.com profile. 

Denise, what should my brand include? 

Great question! Here are some things to think about when creating your brand:

Your brand should be a reflection of your way of doing business. Whether you are a single broker or a small team, your brand should convey to the consumer what is special about you. It may not spell out exactly what you bring to the table, but at a glance, potential buyers or sellers should be able to tell the type of clientele you work with and your general attitude towards how you conduct business. For example, think about two retailers, Target and Nordstrom, and their individual brands. Just by looking, one can tell that their respective shopping experiences will not be the same. The same should go for you and your brand. What sort of experience do you want your potential client to expect when they work with you? 

Your brand should be reflective of your area. 

I am not saying everyone in Seattle should include an image of the Space Needle or that everyone in the Tri-Cities should include an image of the bridge, but if you are going to include imagery, make sure there isn’t a disconnect. It might be confusing for a broker in Yakima to include an image of a Southern California beach in their brand unless they also sell vacation property in Santa Barbara. 

Your brand should remind people about your story. 

Some of the most memorable brands we have created for brokers pay homage to that broker’s past, special skills, or clients served. For example, for a broker with a love of historic homes and preservation (and a Leo) we built a brand that included an Art Deco texture with a classic lion’s head door knocker. For a French broker who specialized in luxury, we built a brand that utilized a fleur de lis front and center. We have even built a brand around a rhinoceros for a broker with a strong commercial and business opportunity background. 

Your color and font palette should be appropriate for your audience. 

If you work with seniors, make sure your color palette lends towards readability. You need high contrast between the background and text when designing material for seniors. And make sure the point size for the font is large enough. However, millennials have a different design aesthetic. More technical-looking sans serif fonts, white backgrounds with dark gray text, possibly an accent color and high-impact photography is what appeals to this generation. And don’t be afraid to use an artistic headline font that really makes your brand pop. 

However, be careful to not be too trendy and try not to update your brand whenever a new fad comes along. Your brand should have longevity. 

Denise, developing a brand is an investment. Will this investment pay off?

It will, time and time again, but only if you use it consistently and really use it to take your business to the next level. If you are just going to make a flyer look pretty, but aren’t going to take the time to apply it to the different systems you have in your business—everything from your letterhead to your website—it is going to be as effective as a hammer and nails that you never take out of your toolbox. Brands build confidence and show the public that you are here ready willing and able to serve and that you are open for business. 

Denise Lones, president of The Lones Group and author of the weekly syndicated Zebra Report, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry with expertise in branding, strategic marketing, business analysis, and broker/managing broker training. Under Denise’s direction, The Lones Group has developed hundreds of brands for agents and brokers across the country and helped them reach extraordinary levels of success. You can reach Denise at (360) 527-8904 or at www.TheLonesGroup.com where you can get a free month of Club Zebra PRO, The Lones Group’s Real Estate Expertise Online Portal with the promo code WAZEBRA. 

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