There’s a lot of buzz nowadays about branding and messaging in the marketplace. Just how important is it when it comes to real estate?
In a word? Very.
The market in general is experiencing a major shift in thinking about how much credence companies of all sizes are attaching to their brand. Citing a recent Forbes.com article, “Three decades ago as much as 95% of the average corporation’s value consisted of tangible assets, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and Interbrand. Today 75% of that average corporation’s value is intangible.”
That’s significant. The concept of considering branding as a corporate asset has been flipped on its head. A World Economic Forum survey further underscores the point by reporting, “Three-fifths (59%) of the survey respondents estimated that corporate brand or reputation represents more than 40% of a company’s market capitalization.”
”Three-fifths (59%) of the survey respondents estimated that corporate brand or reputation represents more than 40% of a company’s market capitalization.”
It’s no longer just your logo. It’s your all-encompassing reputation as a company. That brand reputation includes such things as your mission, vision, voice, tone and visual elements such as your logomark, color palette and image guidelines.
According to an article on 21handshake.com (a Michigan-based branding firm), “A brand profile establishes a unique and distinct voice for all external and internal communications. It propagates a single, crystal clear perception of a company’s values. Finally, it governs the messaging used everywhere from the company’s website to social media campaigns to customer service.”
Agents: Your brand ambassadors
Your brokers and agents are the “boots-on-the-ground” ambassadors of your brand. They are the ones who interface with the public on a day-to-day basis. It’s critical that the face they put on is in perfect alignment with your overall company brand trajectory.
In a Wall Street Journal article by Keri Calagna,“ A company’s reputation is brought to life through the actions and voices of its people. Employees are generally the first line of defense against events or issues that could damage the overall reputation.” While she is referring to employees in the article, your brokers and agents perform the same function. She continues, “Employees also can serve as offense, not just defense, for a company’s brand. They interact with customers and other key stakeholders every day, providing a natural opportunity to reinforce the brand and shape perceptions.”
Company brand vs. agent brand
Your brokers and agents not only represent your company brand, they also have their own personal brand at play. It makes for a delicate balancing act to ensure both remain in sync. If their personal brand either conflicts with, or is detached from your company brand, it can lead to confusion in the marketplace that can adversely affect your reputation.
So how do you protect your brand while at the same time allow your ambassadors enough flexibility to meld their brand into yours?
Maintain control yet provide flexibility
There are many marketing tools out there for real estate. But there are two key things to take note of when considering one for your company:
Generic designs vs. brand compliance: Can you simply slap your logo on the same generic layout that’s available to your competitors? To maintain your specific brand and voice, it would be significantly better to consider a platform that allows you to provide your own exclusive, brand-compliant designs for your agents.
Editing flexibility: The platform you choose should allow enough flexibility and customization in the designs so your agents can personalize their materials. As the primary stakeholder, you should be able to completely control what can and can’t be altered or edited on a template-by-template basis. Without that control you run the risk of materials being created that conflict with your brand reputation.
Real estate is certainly a competitive industry. That’s why paying attention to your brand is more critical now than ever. So make it easy for your brokers and agents to be successful ambassadors of your brand. Not only will it benefit you, it will serve them equally as well.