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Real estate branding: a comprehensive guide

2020-08-21

By: Sophie Livingston & Katie Tejada

Advancements in technology and the power of the internet have leveled the playing field for most, so the need for a creative & effective branding strategy is more important than ever if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Related: The complete guide to real estate marketing

Consumers today are market-savvy, and it's brand authenticity, social proof and genuine human connection that drive our purchasing decisions. We all want to buy from brands we know, like and trust, and so the Person-to-Person (P2P) stance on marketing has never been more important.

Above all else, buyers value brands they have confidence in, and that means delivering integrity, knowledge and strong communication.

While this suggests that real estate brokerages must leverage their real estate agents' personal brands to win over buyers, the importance of a consistent, brokerage-wide branding approach cannot be ignored.

Without the support that a strong, dependable real estate brand offers its realtors, demonstrating integrity and knowledge becomes harder, and putting effective communication practices in place can be a challenge.

Building brands for agents, not just clients

In real estate, your brand isn't just for your clients or potential clients. It's also for your agents.

Think about it: if your brand is your story, then your agents have to see themselves as players in that brand story. Where you came from, who you serve, what you do well... All of these things are part of your brand story. Agents need to relate to this brand before they can see it as valuable and worth protecting. [Tweet this ] Are you telling them this brand story, and if so, is it resonating with them?

Of course, real estate agents also carry their own personal brands with them, which adds a new layer of complexity. If they can't harmoniously combine their personal brand with the brokerage brand, it's going to be very difficult to maintain brand compliance.

Not only will brand compliance suffer, but your retention rates might, too. If staying on-brand is too much work for your agents, they might leave for greener pastures. We heard a lot of concern about agents leaving one brokerage for another, especially independent brokerages whose agents switch to a national brokerage.

Our advice is to cultivate a brand that is consistent but malleable. The core elements of your real estate brand should always remain the same, but in other areas, give your real estate agents the opportunity to add a personal touch.

This is one big reason why Lucidpress performs so well against "form-fill" software. Our templates support drag-and-drop design, so real estate agents can customize their own marketing materials. But we also provide template locking, so corporate designers can lock down logos, colors, fonts and other assets that make up a brand. It's a win-win scenario: real estate agents can quickly and easily make marketing materials that they're proud of, while designers can rest easy knowing the agency's brand is protected.

In this way, it becomes much easier to tell your brand story—to buyers, to sellers, to partners, and crucially, to your real estate agents.

Building brands for clients

What about the other side of the equation—building brands for clients? We heard again and again that building a strong real estate brand is critical for success today. In particular, speakers said that real estate agencies need a strong brand to:

  1. Hold their footing in the marketplace

  2. Stand out from their competitors

So it's no surprise that agencies and brokerages are looking for ways to stand out above the pack, and branding offers an effective way to accomplish just that.

National real estate brokerages usually have the advantage when it comes to brand awareness and legacy. Because many of them have been around for decades, they've achieved high visibility and built up good brand reputations. To preserve this goodwill, it's vital for these companies to protect their brands from poor design and off-brand marketing.

On the other hand, independent, local brokerages might have a leg up here—because they're small, they can adapt quickly. They also have the home-field advantage when it comes to fitting into the community and knowing the neighborhoods. All of this knowledge can be leveraged to create a recognizable, trustworthy real estate brand.

Key takeaway

Although real estate is more competitive than ever, it's possible to pull ahead with a strong, consistent brand. When your branding is consistent, it's easier to innovate and branch out to new technologies and business models without diluting your message. By building and telling a brand story that resonates with real estate agents and clients, your brokerage is laying the foundation for future success.

Real estate branding techniques

To balance the brokerage brand with the realtor's personal brand, agencies need to develop a system for creating content at scale and storing it in a central hub that everyone can access.

Consistency is key in branding, but as the number of channels and mediums continues to grow, it's becoming increasingly difficult for brokerages to manage.

With designers left fighting an overflow of requests and rogue agents taking it upon themselves to create content, the quality of a brand and its message can quickly become diluted.

By taking a hands-on approach to producing top-level brand assets and distributing them well, you're giving your agents the resources they need to develop a personal brand without breaking from the brokerage's branding.

The real estate brokerages who do this well understand that branding & marketing departments need ultimate control when it comes to producing content, but giving agents the flexibility to adapt and personalize that content is the way forward.

By creating branded, templated designs (where a brand's logo, slogan, colors & fonts are locked in, but text, photos & contact details can be changed), marketing directors can oversee brand consistency while also streamlining workflows.

The key is not only to create this central bank of branded content but to give agents both the training and the guidelines they need to use it effectively. To make it work, you'll need to think long-term and be consistent.

Once your brokerage has implemented a process based on this principle, the next step is to look at how you can use content to establish and develop a strong brand.

Real estate branding & content ideas

Forward-thinking brokerages know that their digital spaces are much more than online brochures. Publishing photos of properties—however appealing—isn't enough if you're looking to play big.

To level-up and move past publishing only the expected collection of real estate listings, you'll need to look for ways to add value, be informative and provide inspiration.

Upgrade your website & social channels by putting some of the following ideas into practice.

  • Tell stories that put your target clients in the picture

More than just showing off the building or the rooms inside it, how can you help your buyers imagine themselves living or working there? What is it about the area, the facilities, the amenities or the community that will have a positive effect on their overall lifestyles or businesses?

Perhaps you could conduct interviews with existing residents or produce a feature on local restaurants, schools, and stores? The possibilities are endless; you just need to tap into the right audience and understand what makes them tick.

  • Demonstrate your knowledge and give your buyers a head-start

Give your audience a reason to trust you by providing them with answers to the questions they have surrounding real estate.

The key here is to ensure you're adding true value and not just pushing out sales messages disguised as advice. Put your real estate clients at the forefront of your mind when you're creating this type of content, and again, try and get to the heart of who they are and what they want.

The National Association of Realtors found that 85% of buyers and sellers prefer to work with an agent who offers video marketing, but only 15% of agents actually use video to market their listings.

In today's digital-first landscape, where posts containing imagery and video gain the most traction online, embracing new media is essential for brand survival.

  • Bring in your forward-thinkers

As well as looking for ways to support your agents in building personal connections, you should also find opportunities to have them contribute to the company's brand.

Engage your best real estate agents and bring them onboard with the content creation process. Put them in front of the camera for a Q&A or discussion, then broadcast it live or record it and use it across your platforms.

In summary, if you want to build a respected, trusted and engaging real estaee brand, remember to:

  • Be inspirational

  • Be informative

  • Add value

Common real estate branding mistakes

Building a recognizable real estate brand your clients can connect to is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Everyone knows you should be unique and offer great service, but many brands start off by making the same mistakes.

To help you start your real estate branding journey on the right foot, here are a few common missteps and how to avoid them.

1. Not having an authentic brand identity

Authenticity means staying true to a brand's essence. Without this kind of transparency, your brand might seem untrustworthy (or even too cookie-cutter) for customers to pay attention to.

The first step towards learning how to build brand authenticity is to answer the following questions, which will help you better envision your brand's identity. Then, take all those notes and find ways to put them into an actionable plan.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it? Tell your story and the story of your brand.

  • What's your vision? Your passion? You do not want to lose sight of your goals. Potential real estate clients will respect and follow you because you stick to your guns.

  • What do you believe in? What are the core values driving your real estate business? If your brand had a tagline, what would it be?

2. Not using the full power of the internet

Because so many consumers shop online these days, it's easy for them to imagine finding their realtor or their next home the same way. Phones, tablets, laptops—these are our new shopping malls. If you're not harnessing the far-reaching power of the ‘net (such as social media), then it's safe to say that you're missing an entire sector of the market.

There is good news, though: It's not too late to jump in and reap the benefits of digital brand-building. If you're a newcomer to the scene, here are the most impactful ways to get started.

Videos for real estate

People are very visual when it comes to shopping around for a purchase. Clients want to see what a real estate listing looks likes.

Videos that demonstrate the value of your service can be invaluable to building your overall brand. Periscope and Meerkat are two video-creation apps that stream your videos right to Twitter. (You can use a smartphone to record a YouTube video, but you can't edit or make it look more professional without video-editing software.)

Perhaps you'll decide to hire a video production company to assist you in creating your videos. For example, you might want to create video walk-throughs of all your properties to show prospective buyers what they have to offer. A company with extensive experience filming apartments, homes & offices will know how to make your property look great on video.

Instagram for real estate

If you use Instagram for social purposes, then you already know how powerful it can be for brand marketing. This strategy is common among influencers, and for good reason. Instagram images can demonstrate and advertise your brand's products & services, but they're also the perfect place to show off your brand's philosophy and personality.

Because of its unique visual format, it's important to create content specially for Instagram. A few quick snippets will only take a few minutes of your day to make, so make sure to update this platform regularly and keep your followers engaged.

Facebook for real estate

Creating a Facebook business page or group is a popular starting place for social media marketing. It's a reliable way to ask questions and provide customer support, and it creates a sense of community among your followers.

How can you tailor Facebook to real estate branding? Offer first looks at new properties, exclusive discounts, and valuable industry info that will encourage newcomers to follow you. Remember to be visual here, as well: posts with photo or video attached outperform those without.

3. Not building your brand luxuriously

Choosing the right colors, design elements, logos, typography—everything matters if you want to create a luxury brand that represents quality and credibility. But, here's something that might surprise you: You can create a luxurious brand on a smaller budget than you think. That is, as long as you're thoughtful and deliberate about what you're building.

Your brand identity should harmonize with your brand's essence. (Remember authenticity?) It all works together to communicate your mission, your passion, and your unique selling points. Start with your brand values and work towards a logo that represents them well. As you add in new elements, like colors & fonts, make sure they all work together to send a clear, professional message about the quality of your brand.

Finally, remember that your clients can be some of your best brand ambassadors. They know what it's like to work with you, and their story can inspire others to do the same. Collect testimonials from your satisfied clients and from other real estate professionals. (Pro tip: Consider recording them as video testimonials.) From there, you can post them on your website and social media channels.

4. No genuine connection with others

According to Harvard Business professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, social media is one of the best ways to build connections to your target market. However, it's not just about being present—it's about finding ways to spark genuine human connection.

This could mean publicly supporting a cause that reflects your brand's values and that others will want to support with you. Another idea is posting original, behind-the-scenes content that helps your audience to get to know you and your brand. There are lots of things you can do and new ideas to try.

The point is, by genuinely connecting with your followers, you create positive brand experiences that aren't just about making a profit. Instead, you're putting yourself out there as a real estate brand that wants to help others and to serve your community in a positive way.

5. Not going after free press

Did you know you can jumpstart your brand awareness with local media? Make yourself available for interviews in specialty newspapers, magazines and podcasts. You can easily create a stellar one-sheet bio in Lucidpress (here's a good template) to share with interviewers, so they understand your areas of expertise and how you can demonstrate them for their audience. This can be a great low-cost way to start building a name for yourself.

Lastly, don't forget that you can amplify your own expertise as well. Create and curate content that your audience will want to read and share. You can do this with a blog and with your favorite social media networks, like Instagram or Pinterest. It doesn't all have to be your own content—discovering and sharing others' content can help you establish a presence and build new relationships. Just make sure you share thoughtfully and give the author credit.

Key takeaway

Don't get trapped in the same pitfalls other real estate brands have fallen into. Master these principles so you can think outside the box, make real connections, and breathe life into your brand's unique philosophy.

Examples of quality real estate branding

Re/Max

Rebranding is risky business. There’s so many ways for it to go wrong, and we’ve all seen it happen -- Tropicana without the orange and Gap with its one pixel of color. (Here at Lucidpress, these make for great lunch table discussions on brand consistency.) But sometimes a gentle refresh propels a brand into the next couple generations.

Before 2017, RE/MAX hadn’t seen a change to its branding in over 40 years. A new logo was in order, one that looked cleaner on a digital screen and represented a modern brand trusted by today’s buyers. Before even going to the drawing table, the brand sent out developers to research what it was about the old brand that made it so iconic and trusted. There’s no sense starting from scratch when certain elements of a brand keep the customers coming back.

The developers took to the streets and surveyed over 20,000 people. They found three “fan-favorite” elements: the “red on white on blue” color scheme, the famous slash between syllables and the all-caps wordmark.

Backed by consumer research, RE/MAX fearlessly took to the drawing table to refresh its brand design. Anchored by the elements that proved to work already and inspired by modern design, it brought to life its new balloon that is more conducive to digital marketing and online shopping.

Cabo Cribs

If you're looking to buy property in Cabo, I'll bet Cabo Cribs' logo catches your attention.

The logo design is simplistic, but it doesn't scrimp on the essentials of a good logo. It's easy to understand, elegant, and has a small graphic that makes it obvious they're selling homes.

Best real estate logo designs

Branding, and especially brand consistency, is important to us here at Lucidpress, and we've put a lot of effort into understanding how that resonates with real estate businesses.

To learn more from us and some of the first-rate agencies we've been lucky enough to partner with, check out the following resources for tips.

Learn how to elevate your brand and ensure consistency with this free guide to real estate branding.

Free eBook download

The complete guide to real estate branding

Your brand matters. If you're ready to build your agency's brand into a consistent, compelling force that drives your business, this complete 10-chapter guide will give you the foundation and know-how to get started.

Learn more

Sophie Livingston & Katie Tejada

Sophie Livingston is a freelance copywriter and digital marketing consultant who works with small businesses to improve their presence online.  She's a puppy mamma and self-declared chocolate addict who's trying her very best to stop buying so many books. 

Katie Tejada is a writer, editor and former HR professional. She writes about the latest developments in HR, business communication, law, finance and investing, but she also enjoys writing about events, decorating trends and travel.

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