Product versus brand or brand versus product – which comes first? It might seem obvious, but often, especially in a service-related industry like real estate, people get the answer wrong. As a real estate professional, your brand isn’t a logo and it isn’t your “elevator speech. It isn’t colors or pictures or words. It’s you – everything you do, write and say.
Your brand represents your intrinsic value and the sum total of everything you provide to your clients: your knowledge, experience, insight – all of the things that make you indispensable to said clients. This is why the National Association of Realtors so fiercely protects the REALTOR® name/title/logo and who can bear it – because that name represents a standard of ethics, behavior, education and more. David Ogilvy, often considered the person behind the birth of the advertising industry as we know it, said, “You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality.” REALTOR® is an “image” is a “personality” – and it didn’t happen overnight.
You are a “real estate professional” – looking at them on your computer screen or a sheet of paper those are just three words. Until you make them your own, your “image” and infuse them with your unique “personality.” What do they mean to you and your clients? What image do you want to present? What is your unique value that sets you apart and makes a potential homebuyer want to work with you over the person in the next office or down the street?
You, then, to repeat (because it can’t be emphasized enough) are your brand – your logo, etc. are only there as “shorthand” to encapsulate all of the things you bring to the table. It’s critical that you first establish “all of the things” in your mind and practice and then develop them – your image and personality – over time. And that becomes your brand.
Where to start? Remember that a brand needs to be memorable – and the easiest way to do that is to keep it simple. It’s easier to drive home and make one idea stick than thirty, so in everything you do let simplicity and focus be your guide.
Pick your niche and stick to it. Whether you are a new or seasoned professional, recognize that you can’t be all things to all people. Choose and remain focused on a particular practice area – neighborhood, kind of real estate, etc. – in which you can…
Be a subject matter expert. If you want to be the person everyone wants, corner the market on what everyone needs – make it your knowledge of a subject. Learn everything there is to learn about a topic (or a few – don’t go crazy; focus) and be the invaluable resource that no one can buy a house without.
Service like a star. Having a great niche and terrific subject knowledge are valueless unless you are sharing it in the best possible way. You already know this: nothing goes farther to build relationships and referrals than providing top-tier service. Combined with the first two, you have an unbeatable brand.
So, you’ve established your brand – now comes the step that ensures that no one forgets it: avoid confusion. You’ve worked hard to make your brand your own – don’t let the image get muddied by not sharing the message consistently. Ensure that in every interaction and communication you represent who and what you are in the same way, the same language, whether it’s in an email, a phone call, at an open house or in an interview.
Remember: You are your brand and your brand is you – they are inseparable. And only you can build a brand that homebuyers remember – and refer.