- Branding goes hand in hand with marketing. Without branding, your marketing may end up ineffective, confused, and inconsistent.
- Image is just the tip of the iceberg. In a real estate brand concept, you have to consider location, services, and performance.
- Many established real estate companies have modernized their brand. Even Century 21, the most recognized real estate brand, understands the need to evolve and go beyond the basics.
Go big or go home. Fitting for a real estate business, right? After all, real estate is the largest asset class in the world. With something this valuable, it’s easy to get sucked in to the marketing and sales hype, but Hollywood-like ads and over-the-top marketing efforts may result in more losses than gains for your company.
In order to get the best payoff from your marketing campaigns, you should give your real estate branding much thought. In fact, branding must come first before marketing. “In the absence of branding, all you’re left with is marketing the same things your competitors have. When you do that, you will always be perceived as just like them,” points out Marc Davison, the chief creative of a branding agency for real estate.
Whether your real estate business is a start-up or an accomplished one, now is the perfect time to plan or rethink your brand identity. Branding is an arduous, but worthwhile undertaking, we’re here to help you understand everything about real estate branding, how to position your brand, and what you can do differently to stand out.
The Benefits of Branding in Real Estate
Before anything else, let’s answer that one big question: what’s in it for me? If you already have a killer property and a catchy name and logo to go with it, what more do you need?
Without branding you’re just “another real estate” – even if you have a property to die for. A brand isn’t just a name, a logo, and a tagline. According to 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.”
Consider these benefits of good branding that give your real estate business a competitive edge:
1. BRANDING GIVES CLARITY, DIRECTION, AND CONSISTENCY TO MARKETING
Your brand is what you market. Without proper branding, your marketing initiatives may confuse potential clients, lose lasting impact, and fail to convert leads into sales.
2. BRANDING GETS YOU RECOGNITION AND DISTINCTION
Your brand shows what your business is all about and how it is different from others. It is how clients get to know your company and form expectations and experiences. It also provides the trigger for how potential clients will remember you and the things they associate with your business.
3. BRANDING DEVELOPS TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
These are essential qualities for a real estate business to last. While a recognizable brand starts with the visual aspects like brand logo and imagery, it’s the non-physical qualities like customer relations, follow-through, and positive experience that make a reliable and trustworthy brand. Trust and credibility will create customer loyalty.
4. BRANDING ALLOWS YOU TO TARGET THE RIGHT CLIENTS
A key aspect of your branding is deciding who you want to serve. You build and position your brand to appeal to a particular market or persona. This enables you and your agents to identify and convert potential clients into bonafide leads.
5. BRANDING BUILDS AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
According to Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard professor, 95% of purchasing decisions are not logical. They are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion. It’s not only applicable when deciding what to buy; in the real estate industry, it is beneficial to build this emotional capital before buyers start their search.
Without a deeper understanding of your brand identity and what it stands for, there’s little positive impact and your company may seem inauthentic or unrelatable. Leaving room for storytelling enables clients to harbour strong emotions for your company and care about what you offer.
6. BRANDING ADDS VALUE TO YOUR BUSINESS
An article published in Forbes magazine declares “a company’s brand is its single most important asset.” No matter how great your property is, if you don’t get your branding right (poor brand awareness, unclear messaging, etc.), then your business won’t achieve the success it is capable of.
As you establish brand recognition and customer loyalty, your brand becomes more valuable. It opens doors for possible business expansion that may include more diversified properties or services under one valued brand, making it a more attractive investment because of its standing in the marketplace.
The Real Estate Brand Concept
In a nutshell, your brand is the overall experience your present and potential clients get from your real estate firm. To know what particular expectations, memories, stories, and relationships your business can create, you need to figure out and understand your brand concept.
Your real estate brand concept is built upon four factors. The image below shows how your brand concept is structured like a pyramid, with your Image standing atop a firm foundation of Location, Performance, and Services.
This is where your property is situated. Many have built huge real estate brands from location alone and location may also affect other factors of the brand concept. Here’s how location affected the modernized logo of Brown Harris Stevens, a real-estate brokerage firm in New York.
Stacking the words in the logo with a thick font, and having that bold orange color captures the contemporary feel of New York. It reflects the 90-story high glass boxes of Manhattan residences and the distinctive properties of Brooklyn, Queens, and the rest of the state.
Moreover, if your property is within an exclusive subdivision, you can position your brand as more upscale and attractive to high-end clients. If it’s in a provincial area, then you might portray your real estate brand as eco-friendly or relaxing, depending on what has the greatest appeal to your target market.
Remember that location is a major deciding factor for your clients; your real estate’s accessibility, key landmarks, surrounding public transportation points, nearby services and amenities are important aspects of your real estate branding and marketing plans – not just the property itself.
As a real estate business, services define what you are able to offer to prospective clients. Perhaps you offer property management, consultation, loan processing, or other related services. In commercial real estate, available services can be virtual office setups, coworking spaces, and others.
Businesses are becoming more service-oriented, the kind and quality of services you provide set a tone for your brand and is a key element in how it is perceived.
Remember that your brand is not just what’s seen, but what’s experienced. Performance describes how well the facility functions in its intended use. It can be categorized into property performance, user performance, cost efficiency, and eco efficiency.
Indoor environment issues, damage risk, flexibility, security, and accessibility can manifest property performance. User performance centers on quality of services, while cost efficiency covers how space utilization and service production are optimized. Eco efficiency is applicable in cases of facility conversion; like when an old factory turns into an office and to new construction characteristics like green building materials, green spaces, energy-efficient appliances, etc.
A brand is based on images and associations. The images evoked by your real estate are highly influential in how your brand is seen by potential buyers. If your housing units look serene and have that cozy ambiance, you can promote a more casual and family-friendly image. If your property is around the sleek and modern trope, then the rest of your brand should suggest the same.
As an example, Luxury Portfolio International is a platform for thousands of premium homes and properties around the world. As an upscale real estate brand, they take inspiration from other great luxury brands like Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) and Louis Vuitton by rebranding their logo into a monogram.
Forming your brand concept is like getting to know your company better so you can develop your brand identity. It’s also important to note that your brand identity has external and internal qualities.
Your external brand identity consists of the tangible components of your brand that people come into contact with before anything else. This includes:
- Brand logo
- Color scheme
- Brand voice
- Tagline and/or slogan
On the other hand, your internal brand identity holds the reason why your real estate business exists and how you’re different from other firms. This involves:
- Brand purpose
- Target profiles or buyer persona
- Value proposition
7 Qualities of an Effective Branding Strategy
Let’s say your brand identity is good to go with its logo, branding design, vision, mission, and all the other elements (thanks to your brand concept structure), the next step is to strengthen your brand through the right branding strategies.
Branding strategy is a long-term plan designed to make your brand successful. Any branding strategy you deploy should have the following elements:
#1 IT SHOULD APPEAL TO YOUR INTENDED AUDIENCE
Your target market should identify with your brand, from the colors and messaging you use down to the interiors and ambiance of your property. Even the price, payment process, services, and amenities should match the wants and needs of your intended clients.
#2 IT MUST REVEAL YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION AND PURPOSE
Your value proposition and purpose are interrelated and differentiate you from other real estate companies. Your value proposition shows how you solve your clients’ pain points, how you deliver your promises, and how you do things differently. Your purpose tells your reason for doing business. Your value proposition should reflect your purpose. For example, if your purpose is to provide shelter for new families, then your value proposition should be able to support that in terms of space, security, and affordability.
#3 IT MUST BE CONSISTENT
Consistency is all about discipline, which requires vigilance and practice. Without consistency, it’s almost impossible to build brand familiarity and recall, as well as clarity and credibility. It’s best to establish and stick to your brand guidelines or style guide unless you plan to rebrand. Another key aspect of consistency is to avoid taking actions or talking about things that have no relation and/or benefit to your brand.
#4 IT SHOULD APPEAL TO BOTH REASON AND EMOTION
We already mentioned that branding lets you connect with your audience on an emotional level and how emotion drives one’s buying decisions, but that doesn’t mean you have to cling to sentimentality. Your real estate branding strategy should still be practical. For instance, you can position your property as not only an achievable dream for your target clients, but also a smart investment decision. Remember, people buy based on emotions and justify the purchase with rational information.
#5 IT NEEDS TO BE FLEXIBLE
Flexibility means your real estate branding should be able to adapt to varying messages, platforms, and markets, especially if you have a wide product or service range. Take a look at Century 21’s updated logo and monogram.
Being flexible also gives way for changes and updates. Even Century 21, a well-recognized real estate brand, has modernized their brand look. Economic conditions, client needs, and industry trends tend to change overtime. While branding strategies are supposed to be long-term, if they no longer work or need some adjustments, be flexible enough to make the changes that will keep your brand fresh and relevant in an ever-changing world.
#6 IT HAS TO BUILD TRUST AND REWARD LOYALTY
Your real estate branding should communicate trust and credibility. Think about this: have you positioned your brand as trustworthy? Do your clients think of you as reliable? Have you received recognition from reputable, industry-related organizations or media? Or do you use studies or proof to back up claims?
As clients trust your brand, they become more loyal. Make sure to recognize their loyalty and reward them as part of your brand experience.
#7 IT SHOULD BE COMPETITIVE
The whole idea behind real estate branding is to make your company stand out from the competition. It’s not a bad idea to check your competitors and see how they’re developing and positioning their brands. This is not to copy them, but to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your brand.
BRANDING DEFINES WHO YOU ARE
Branding is paramount for your company’s success. It’s the act of giving your brand a personality - a soul.
According to McKinsey & Company, a trusted consulting firm to many of the world’s influential businesses, “It’s long been said that three things matter in real estate: location, location, location. But based on trends that have been reshaping industries, competition in real estate has spread to another area: customer experience.” And overall, this is what real estate branding is all about.