Budding real estate agents often focus on the nuts and bolts of the profession: choosing a broker or team (or making the determination to go at it alone), selling homes, walking buyers through the complex process of a house purchase and navigating lender relationships. However, there is an important step to take before any of that and it may be the most important one: creating a personal real estate brand.
Defining your real estate brand
Branding consists of more than slapping a design with contact info on a pen or placing an ad in the local newspaper. According to Dirk Zeller, noted author and CEO of Real Estate Champions, Inc., creating a personal brand is about communicating your value to your prospective clients.
“Creating a brand starts with a philosophy. You have to know what you are selling and why, or you won’t be successful in sales. The values that you bring to the table, the philosophy that you have in terms of how you serve people and the benefits that the clients are going to get – if you are not clear on those things, you’ve got nothing to sell,” said Zeller. “There are many questions to answer in this process. What is the size of your company going to be? What are your core values? What is your personal philosophy? Are you going to be a sole proprietor or build a team? These things should be clear before you move forward in any other aspect of the industry.”
Start by jotting down some ideas for a professional career approach. Be clear about what this profession means to you and why you want to serve your clients. Ask yourself who you want to help and why and how you plan to take a novel approach. Address the niche or specialty you plan to focus on, the demographics you want to work with and what you have to offer from a sales perspective that’s just a little bit different than any other agent.
In the creation of a brand, Zeller says it’s important not to cast too wide a net. “If someone is working in too wide of a geographic area or chasing too much business in too many areas, it’s easy to get fractured and lose focus,” he said. “Focus comes before success.”
Brand visualization: bringing your real estate brand to life
After you’ve zeroed in on a professional philosophy, it’s time for brand visualization. This is where a dose of creativity can bring your brand to life. Logos, professional photographs and other marketing materials should all represent the philosophy that you started with. These are your professional identifiers; the calling cards that people begin to associate with you and what you represent. For this reason, brand visualization requires significant thought and insight. It should match the demographic you are targeting.
For example, if you want to sell condos to millennials, but design a logo using the traditional Times New Roman font and run ads featuring people over the age of 50, your personal brand does not match the visualization of it. It is important to marry core philosophy with visual representation to create messaging.
Don’t do too much too fast; this is a rookie mistake in the real estate industry. Choose one or two components of marketing that match your real estate niche – for instance, social media marketing for millennials or refrigerator magnets for young families. Start slow and build on successes, depending on what works and what does not in marketing your brand.
However, Zeller cautions against changing brand messaging too quickly. If you settle on a core philosophy and create materials associated with it, he recommends trying it out for at least four to six months before making a determination of how well it is working. Sometimes, a tweak here or there is all it takes to connect people to your brand.
It’s important to remember that whether you take the time to establish your brand or not, there will be a message associated with you as a professional. If you take the time to create a brand, you have control over the message.
Ultimately, a personal real estate brand provides you the opportunity to tell your clients who you are and what you’re about – and no one can do that better than you.
What are some of the best real estate brands you have seen? Share your ideas on the Real Estate Express Facebook page.