Do you want to stand out in the real estate market? Are you tired of spending money on futile Facebook ads? This real estate branding guide will teach you how to create a successful real estate brand from scratch and position your organization correctly.
More often than not, when real estate agents say “Grrr! my marketing techniques are not working”, the techniques are not to blame. The major problem is the lack of brand identity. They keep making noise on social media without any hope of converting leads.
Pre-1983 real estate businesses were quite reliant on selling the same services to the masses. The audience was broad and OG realtors were faced with relatively lesser challenges. However, the emergence of the internet came with new problems that forever changed the 21st-century realtor’s approach to marketing.
Target groups started getting smaller and real estate agencies had to evolve into brands in a bid to appeal to a more streamlined community of identical individuals. The free-for-all ad system made it easy for anyone including non-realtors to position themselves as “professionals”, hence relinquishing the last aura of reverence associated with the word and casting a shadow of doubt in the minds of clients. The word, professional, is now synonymous with the negative word – huckster.
If you are keen on building a lasting career for yourself in the real estate industry whether as a realtor, mortgage lender, home inspector, or title agent, you must be ready to nurture a sui generis brand that speaks the language of your targeted audience.
What is Real Estate Branding?
Real estate branding is the process of establishing an outstanding but relatable perception of a real estate agent/agency through creative communication techniques such as storytelling and bigger-than-life campaigns.
In the words of Seth Godin, a brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
Branding is like a two-edged sword. On one side, it positions your agency in a way that consumers can easily deduce your core brand qualities. On the other hand, the targeted audience sees your brand as their voice and won’t mind spreading your gospel in the form of UGC content, reviews, or testimonials.
Is Real Estate Branding the Same as Real Estate Marketing?
Many real estate agents tend to mix up branding and marketing. However, like water and oil, branding and marketing are immiscible. Branding helps you stand out among the crowd while marketing gets your message out there.
The Importance of Real Estate Branding
According to a Statista report, the number of realtors (real estate agents that belong to U.S NAR) has risen from 1.11 million to 1.46 million in 2020. The Statista report does not account for unregistered real estate agents. There is a pool of real estate agents in between you and your potential clients; you cannot appear and sound like every realtor if you wish to succeed at flipping homes. Agencies that skip the branding step never rise above the noise. A perfect example of a real estate firm that paid the price of poor branding is Buyfolio. The firm, which positioned itself as an online collaboration site for realtors, folded two years after it was acquired by Zillow. According to Zillow, their customer base could not sustain the business. As if the Buyfolio lesson was not enough, Zillow made the same mistake with Zillow Offers – on iBuying service. The service was launched in 2019 and closed in 2021.
The deeper truth regarding the failure of Buyfolio and Zillow Offers is that both startups were trying to profit off unrefined ideas with little research and zero branding efforts. The result, as we all know, is death by a thousand cuts.
Enough of Zillow and its shortcomings; let’s get into the importance of real estate branding.
Attract the right customers
To attract the right clients, real estate agents need to acquire the right skill set to distinguish them from others and of course, position their agencies where their customers are situated. For Ben Caballero, a 2015 Guinness world record holder for the first real estate professional to surpass $1 billion in home sales in a year – getting new homes to their potential buyers at a fraction of what his competitors are charging is his way of attracting the right clients. He attained the feat by building a system that makes MLS listing and real estate marketing easier. Caballero is the Phil Knight of the real estate industry; he discovered a problem waiting to be solved and tackled it with an innovative approach.
When you define your brand; you automatically attract a specific type of audience. Core android users don’t like iPhones because of interface rigidity while iPhone users don’t like android phones because of the lack of exclusivity. You see where I’m going with my analogy – different strokes for different folks.
Real estate branding can be a tough puzzle to solve especially when you have gone a long way in the wrong direction but your idea of an aspirational brand is not a fantasy. We affirm this with deep conviction because more than 350 businesses have morphed into their best versions under our watch. Our expert creative team understands that there is no one-size-fits-all way out for all real estate agencies. Hence, our award-winning designers seamlessly create tailored ideas and solutions for clients. We did not dish out over 150 top seller products by mistake. After conducting an in-depth analysis on the best practices of our client’s competitors and the predilections of their potential customers, we employed world-class strategies such as the blue ocean process and the caregiver process, depending on the clients’ preferred brand archetypes.
Realtors don’t have to wait until their agencies are barely staying afloat before turning to the branding agencies for help. You don’t want to be caught up in a situation of institutional “life and death”. This was the case for John, the founder of JFBrady Realty. The client was referred by a former client whose firm grew in a matter of a few months after hiring the Stan Branding team. John built his real estate empire with his personal reputation and the strategy was good while it lasted. His small-sized firm was approaching its last quarter of the year (mind you, the firm was roughly four years old) and he needed to act quickly or risk operating below his potential. He chose the latter, giving rise to a new problem – how to evolve from a personal brand to an advanced service imprint.
To successfully reinvent his firm’s brand, we dedicated our first meeting to refining his vision for his new brand until the organization’s destination was crystal clear. Nothing frustrates consumers more than a confused brand with a wishy-washy image. Also, we had to ensure that the brand persona remained the same while shifting the focus of the public to suit the new goals.
After 10 days of what I call clinical rebranding, John’s new brand was ready to hit the ground running.
While 2020 was a bad year for many agencies, John’s firm had a fantastic run. They were able to convert more clients, especially those that were interested in luxury housing. I was elated to get a call from him in early 2021. He told me the expansion move yielded positive results and the new brand seamlessly fits his goals for the firm. Nothing inspires the Stan Branding team more than good results.
If you are confused about how to switch from a personal brand to a user-oriented label, we can help you orchestrate a unique roadmap, answer your pending questions, and take you through the several ways you can implement your project and attain your goals – all in one free zoom meeting with our CEO. Stan Branding has garnered more than 12 awards from established organizations – such as Forbes, the manifest agency, GD USA, Clutch, and Good Firms – for our positive impact on brands in the states. One lesson we have learned from working with top corporations like Burger King, Nike, and Target is that brands with the highest level of creativity win. Hence, we strike the market from the viewpoint of creativity and deep commercial understanding of our client’s industry.
High referrals from previous clients
At its best, referral marketing inspires current or past clients to preach the company’s gospel to their loved ones, colleagues, and contacts. Branding is a two-edged sword. On one side, you have to position yourself in a way that consumers can easily deduce your brand qualities. On the other end, you have to let customers spread your gospel for you in the form of UGC content, reviews, or testimonials.
Real estate branding helps realtors build a unique reputation and in turn, get high referrals from past clients. Word-of-mouth, they say, is the best form of marketing. In an industry where most of the discussions happen offline, real estate agencies that refuse to brand themselves would not attain their full potential.
Most ultra-luxury real estate deals don’t make it to MLS sites like Zillow or Redfin. People who want ‘homes others can’t have’ are obsessed with the reputation of the realtor. Instead of reading manipulated online reviews, they prefer to make their findings via word-of-mouth. Given that these buyers or sellers have plenty of options; you must be on your ‘A-game’ at all times to win their hearts.
More sales; less advertising cost
Nurturing a loyal fanbase reduces the cost of advertising. You can get people to amplify your brand story and tell others about your products. Companies without a loyal social media following end up spending more on advertising than the actual development of their services.
Our guide would be incomplete if we do not write about Barbara Corcoran, the founder of The Corcoran Group, a real estate brokerage based in New York City. With the heavy media presence of its founder, the Corcoran group is bound to flourish with less ad cost and more sales. Barbara uses her immense social media influence to promote her real estate company at no cost. She has 748k followers on Instagram and 735k followers on Twitter. Also, she consistently appears on popular new platforms like Forbes, Nasdaq, and Legacy news platforms.
It makes marketing effective
Marketing without brand identity makes the campaign less memorable. People will easily forget about a real estate ad that promises what thousands of realtors possess. An ad that shows the lack of land wealth among an underserved community and how your agency is working to enrich the community will appeal to minority groups. Without giving them a direct financial incentive to refer you, they will tell their friends about your real estate company. A good example is the “support black businesses” narrative which is popular on social media. By design, such narratives encourage people to refer, patronize and help a particular company (or set of firms) without expecting anything in return.
The analogy above is just a mere example. You can think of several ways to position your organization positively. However, ensure you have a ‘universal but ultra-personal’ approach. What do I mean by the term – universal but ultra-personal? 21st-century clients can smell deceit from a mile because of their exposure. A universal story without a sprinkle of personal experience sounds inauthentic. On the flip side, a super personal story without a humanitarian appeal sounds too selfish. As a real estate brand, you must find a balance between universality and personality.
Testimonials, personal experiences, and sales statistics are three vital elements employed by great real estate brands. One realtor who has mastered the art of storytelling is Mauricio Umansky. He has been featured on several established US publications like The New York Times, Architectural Digest, and Variety. He ensures his personal brand story is consistent on every platform he’s on – a kid who was diagnosed with neutropenia at an early age but grew up to become one of the leading voices in the American real estate industry. His story is simple, relatable, and empathy-driven. Who does not like a success story? Everyone wants to root for a guy who made it against all odds.
It sets the company’s DNA in stone
The success of your company will be determined by the daily input of your workers. Organizations with a clear mission statement, tagline, vision statement, and core values, perform better than others because their workers are inspired by a common cause.
Steve Jobs was one of the few founders who understood the need for a brand identity and its influence on an organization. He said people don’t have to be forced to work on the things they love. The outlined goal is the pulling force.
It makes merging seamless
Co-branding deals with the creation of a new brand from two or more merging or partnering firms. It becomes necessary when two or more gigantic businesses merge. The change in goal and mission of the company must go beyond merger paperwork. The brand perception must reflect such changes if the company seeks to prosper.
A good example is a merger between Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ. The 2 billion dollars’ takeover made the company the second biggest housing establishment in the globe. Branding can either be revolutionary or evolutionary, but for good reasons, the company chose the latter. The company’s logo was tweaked to accommodate qualities from both merging parent companies – like the replacement of the Cushman & Wakefield red color with the DTZ red, the omission of the globe symbol beneath the former logo, leaving a hybrid of the building and square images, and finally, the adoption of the light gray typography over dark blue. The result of the rebranding process was a powerful yet neutral logo that best represents the values of both corporations.
It brings companies closer to newer markets
Old establishments are victims of their past success. They are forced into relying on old media strategies that alienate them from the new generation. Century 21 is one of the old organizations to dodge the bullet and turn a new leaf. Since its 2018 rebranding campaign, Century 21 has become one of the most outstanding real estate brands in America. Instead of tweaking their logo as Cushman & Wakefield did, Century 21 tore down the old brand in favor of a modern empire – a move that later paid off. They conserved their popular gold and black theme. Then, they threw out the out-of-date iconography that has been associated with the company for over 50 years. Although unique, the new brand appealed to consumers across every niche in the real estate industry. Due to the undeniable charm exhibited by its new label, the Century 21 revolution became a defining cultural moment that shook American media houses and appealed to millennials. The new Century 21 logo looks perfect on banners, flyers, yard signs, business cards, t-shirts, and even tote bags. It elegantly displays C21 in an unconventional and brilliant manner.
Image source: https://www.century21collinsrealty.com/
Another example of an established real estate company that admitted the potency of rebranding as a means to reaching a newer audience is Coldwell Banker. Unlike Century 21, Coldwell Banker wanted to appeal to its mainstream and affluent customers while promoting its core values with a modern aesthetic. Instead of deciding what logo best represents the company in-house, they decided to run A/B testing in four main countries, namely France, Spain, the United States, and Italy. To further enhance the study, the company assembled focus groups in the form of privy surveys, group interviews, and individual sessions with high-end real estate brand ambassadors from 10 nations. Coldwell Banker’s approach to logo branding changed the way businesses approach branding as a whole. The result of the rigorous branding process is an ultra-modern logo that appeals to consumers in the same way Lamborghini drives aspiration among car lovers. The logo design features the initials of the company’s imprint and a Northstar mark which signifies excellence. The old logo design is no match for the new one.
Branding is the ultimate way of bridging the gap between your company and newer audiences. It does not matter whether you love the Century 21 liberal style or the Coldwell Banker’s preservative style – the creative team at Stan Branding can help you find the best branding style for your company while giving you 100% control over the trajectory of your brand. You can trust us with the design of your company’s logo, website, and social media content. We have a deep commercial understanding of the real estate industry and our expert team of award-winning designers can bring your dream brand to life.
How to Create Your Real Estate Brand?
Branding is not limited to real estate firms. Real estate agents – like Fredrik Eklund, Victoria Sandoval, Ryan Serhant, Babara Corcoran, and Kevin Vaughan — have mastered the art of real estate branding. They have built loyal followers on Instagram in an industry where most Americans change residences 11 times in their lifetime, meaning they barely have conversations about real estate agencies unless when necessary.
Real estate can be a very boring topic to discuss on social media especially in an internet age where people value diamond chains over the land property. These above-mentioned outliers have discovered ways to keep their audience entertained while sustaining their statuses as real estate agents. Below are the DIY steps you can take to create a successful brand.
Find a Niche
Finding a niche does not necessarily mean taking residential real estate jobs and neglecting industrial real estate opportunities. A niche could be a particular problem that no realtor in your city is currently solving. For instance, in an Imaginary American city where Latinos or blacks are having problems owning properties because no bank is willing to lend them money, you can make it your company’s mission to “finance Latino-owned homes”. Such a community slogan will automatically make you a part of the Latino community. You can back it up with an inspirational story of how you became a homeowner and established realtor in the city despite coming from a poor family of Syrian asylum seekers.
Be different but authentic
Doing what everyone is doing is a race to the rabbit hole. It leads nowhere.
Seth Godin and his family went on a 17hours trip to France over a decade ago. His wife was asleep for the most part of the trip because of a condition called transportation narcolepsy. His kids were busy doing what kids do when they’re bored – making a ruckus. The journey was a run-of-the-mill one until they drove by a Pasteur. At first, the kids felt refreshed by the view but moments after, they went back to their unruffled state. Then, Seth thought to himself, “what if these cows were painted in purple?”
Purple cows would have made his kids so excited to the point that they would have woken up his sleeping wife. The kids would have asked their parents for a picture with the purple cow. A purple cow could have stilled the pacing limbs of time unapologetically.
Most real estate firms are just like the everyday cow – uninteresting and unworthy of attention. Your brand can stand out by being the different one aka the purple cow.
Speaking of being different, Keller Williams is one of the few real estate corporations with a non-conventional approach to the housing industry. The company showed the world a more technological side of real estate. The American real estate company launched two important housing apps known as Keller, a virtual assistant for realtors, and Referrals, an agent-to-agent referral tools platform.
Ranked by Career Bliss as one of the ‘happiest corporations to work for’, Keller Williams also takes responsibility for the training of its brokers. Their mission statement reads, “to build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, and legacies worth leaving”.
Write your brand story
Your brand story is a down-to-earth narrative that captures the life-changing moments that led to the emergence of your Real Estate Company and helps establish your company’s essence. It has to be consistent with every message your company puts out. This is the overall theme that guides your newsletters, social media posts, guest posts, and blog posts.
According to Kate Santore, a Sr Manager of Integrated Marketing Communications at Coca-Cola, “every successful story must contain four basic archetypes, namely element of desire, social connector, the epitome of an attitude, and value to the readers.”
The moment readers can tell your brand story without you, then that story is not yours. Take a trip down memory lane and recollect the events that motivated you to start an agency/firm. It does not have to boil down to an unsatisfied founder who created a solution first for himself and later for the world. You can also incorporate customers’ stories into your online marketing process.
Airbnb is the best example of a rental company that uses customers’ stories to the fullest. The company devoted a special section on its website to Airbnb community stories. The section contains stories from hosts and travelers. The idea of allowing a stranger to stay in your home breeds anxiety at first, but reading the stories of previous clients makes the idea less risky. For an international company that has been a victim of haunting government policies, and controversies, not writing its brand story is catastrophic because its competitors would write an awful brand story on their behalf. The American company built brand equity worth $4.8 billion in 2019 without a single product. All they had was an idea that forever revolutionized the home rental industry.
Create a brand personality
We all have uncles, aunts, or siblings that we don’t need to see physically to correctly guess that they are the ones speaking from a distance. As a real estate agency, you ought to develop a brand personality that is not just relatable but also recognizable by your audience over time.
Brand personality is the human factor of your brand image that people can relate to outside the supply-demand bracket. It embodies the characteristics and qualities of your organization. In the 90s, Jennifer Aaker defined brand personality as the “symbolic self-expression function” of a brand.
RE/MAX is a real estate company with a strong brand personality that is popular in the US. For an established corporation that has spent billions of dollars in the past 40 years, dumping its already established logo design is not just counter-intuitive but also costly. Despite building a billion dollars brand equity, the RE/MAX team knew it had to rebrand to stay in vogue or it would lose a good part of its potential audience to revolutionary brands like Keller Williams and Zillow. The real-estate giant has rebranded its balloon logo three times – in 1978, 2005, and 2007. However, its brand personality has stayed intact over the years, hence reinforcing its bond with its core audience.
Every real estate business thrives off individual connections with consumers. To be part of the offline discussions going on in several neighborhoods in your city you need to build a living brand (one that has a personality and a story). People tend to become more emotionally attached to institutions with visible brand personalities.
The most perceptible part of human existence is personality aka behavior. It is almost impossible to imagine a human being without personality. In fact, we are quick to label non-interactive humans as zombies or robots. People naturally tend to associate with brands that have good personalities and they distance themselves from those that have a bad reputation.
How do you build brand trust? By being the best at what you do and keeping a great track record. Nowadays, people can easily tell the difference between a fake image and a real one because the internet has armed them with knowledge.
Take Keller Williams for example, the realty company has built a reputation as an equal opportunity employer in the real estate industry by employing the best new talents and training them through its university program. Its liberal and digitized approach towards the real estate business has positioned it to be the people’s favorite.
Quit positioning yourself as the best when you are nowhere near the best. You don’t have to be the best at all things; you just have to do one thing and do it well. Then, you can build an authentic brand off your solid reputation.
What does Branding Mean in Real Estate?
The ownership of land did not become a thing until 10,000 years ago when men transitioned from the nomadic lifestyle to an agrarian way of life. Branding can be traced back to 2000 BC when farmers imprinted symbols on their cattle to establish ownership. In this current age, branding has evolved from a logo to a strategy for shaping the consumer’s perception of a company. When done well, a company’s brand equity would be as important as the product or service itself.
Brand equity is the reason buyers and sellers alike would trust big real estate players like Keller Williams or Century 21 over an anonymous agency. It is the social currency of popular agencies/figures. These big organizations have nurtured enough brand attachment, brand perspective, and brand awareness to the extent that people are willing to pay for anything with the imprint slapped on it. Apple is originally known for making the iPhone and iPad, but as its fan base grew, the company started venturing into music streaming, video streaming, and EarPods sales. As long as a product has the Apple logo on it, their brand loyalists will purchase it.
Speaking of brand loyalty, we conducted a study on 600 real estate agencies with the aim of proffering solutions to poor lead conversion rates. We discovered that three out of four underperforming real estate companies are sinking because of the lack of brand loyalty. They had no idea how to turn old consumers into brand advocates. The true test of a winning design is its ability to remind customers of the reasons they chose your services in the first instance. Our award-winning designers have a deep commercial understanding of what makes the masses tick and what they expect from a real estate agency. A viable design must balance creativity with a strong commercial appeal.
Design viability brings us to the next story. A particular client named David approached our CEO at a seminar during his visit to Germany. He is the founder of B-Up, a large real estate company in Frankfurt, Germany. The company is in the business of bridging the gap between people and their dream homes. David’s vision for B-Up was simple; he wanted to build a brand that is trusted by buyers and sellers alike in the real estate market. He was convinced that he needed experienced hands on deck. He hired us (the Stan Branding team) to help design the perfect brand for his real estate business. Guided by his MVV (mission, vision statement, and values) for the organization, we created a genuine brand story that mirrored the predilections of his potential audience.
Since the new brand was introduced into the market, they have grown beyond David’s expectations B-Up was ranked the most successful startup in 2017 Frankfurt months after we helped them rebrand.
JFBrady and B-Up real estate agency are two of the many unique completed projects done by our award-winning brand agency with proven results. We have completed 600 unique projects across the globe and more than 150 products were top sellers. Our back-to-back success in the past six years was built on the general brainstorming of our expert team (marketers and designers) and in-depth research. Our creative expert team works hand in hand with every client to get out their brand story and help them set their core values in stone.
Do Real Estate Agents Need a Logo?
Yes, real estate agents need a logo and consistent branding. Power is decentralized in every industry including the housing niche. Real estate agents who want to attain an unusual level of success must take real estate branding seriously. Nurturing brand equity gives you leverage when speaking with potential clients and opens up multiple streams of income.
For instance, Speakrj estimates that sponsoring a post on Barbara Corcoran’s Instagram page could cost $348. Of course, the value given is just a modest estimate. Her rate per post would cost more because she’s a niche-based influencer. As a real estate influencer with a significant online presence, you can monetize your platform through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, direct advertisement, and property review.
In the end, every business has brand equity but some brands have more brand equity than others. The firms that get the most attention are not the ones that squander thousands of Benjis on pointless ads. The ones who make it to the G.O.A.T Mountain are those with the most appealing brands and loyal fanbases like Brown Harris Stevens, Ben Caballero, Keller Williams, and Mauricio Umansky.
In our 6+ years of helping brands perform at their highest levels, we have worked with top realtors with different mindsets, from the US to Southeast Asia. We have partnered with a conservative set of CEOs who want to retain their core values while appealing to the new generation of homeowners. On the flip side, we have also partnered with another liberal set of founders who wants to tear down the old brand in favor of a futuristic one. Regardless of the group you belong to, Stan Branding has tailored branding packages designed to bring your ideas to life. We are an award-winning agency that focuses majorly on branding, print graphic, web & development, packaging, and digital ads. Our expert team consists of world-class print graphic design specialists, award-winning designers, copywriters, and digital ad optimizers.
Your real estate business can blossom if you act right now. The actionable tips provided in this guide will set you on the right path as far as branding is concerned. We understand that you have enough on your plate. That’s why we created a free development program for your project goals. Throughout the program, you will be given professional advice on how to execute your project by Stan (the CEO of our award-winning agency).