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10 August 2009

Building Your Brand in the Next Generation: Emulate the Pros

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A great thing about today’s transparent online world, is that it’s so easy to see what other people are doing, and who is successfully implementing brand strategies.  You don’t have to be an expert on everything… because there are plenty of others who are!  Your primary business is the business of real estate – why would you be a branding aficionado?  And why would you only look inside this industry for the best ideas? The smart thing to do though, is to observe and model those who do it best across our economy, and at least look like you are a pro, and execute effective brand plans.

These are just a few winning formulas, as demonstrated by some of the most aspirational, game-changing brands across any industry in the U.S., including Twitter, Google, Zappos.com, Disney and JetBlue. More and more, our brand touches become virtual rather than physical, so core elements like these are even more important.

#1: Think like a brand

The most important rule is to always consider yourself a brand, whether on Twitter, Facebook, via email, on the phone or in person. You need to decide what kind of brand you want to be and then let that permeate through everything you do. The most successful brands in the world are consistent and precise.

#2: Send what matters

It’s no secret consumers will look at information that matters to them and discard anything that doesn’t. Sending information that matters will communicate that you are a significant and valuable brand. Therefore, the important thing is knowing what your consumers want – all of them – and then giving it to them.

This is a best practice from Twitter: tweet about the news, information and content that your consumers need. Think local and get granular, if need be. This can also be applied to direct mailings and email blasts – just stay relevant.

#3: Make it easy to communicate

JetBlue prides itself on communicating with consumers, no matter where they are. They respond via phone, email and even on social networking sites. The brand’s value proposition is simple: excellent customer service.

As an agent, you can emulate this same value proposition by communicating in ways that are relevant to your buyers and sellers, whether that is via Twitter and Facebook, email or phone. Communicating in real-time will show your community that you’re available and that you care.

#4: Be accessible

Although very similar to the above, being accessible across all forms of communication is important in order to reach varying audience demographics. No brand has done this better than Disney. From infants to seniors, Disney has long been a beloved brand that can ‘grow up’ with consumers. Although, as agents, we aren’t meant to have the reach of a mega-brand like Disney, we can work on becoming relevant for multiple generations by understanding what young couples and first-time home buyers need up as opposed to a down sizing retiree. The content – and the platform with which you communicate that content – needs to resonate.

#5: Partnering with your community

As Zappos continues to grow, its brand has never faltered in offering personalized communication and in going the extra step to communicate value.

Partnering with local businesses and vendors to get access to coupons, discounts or valuable insight will allow you to offer an extra, personalized service for individual consumers. For example, you could send special discounts for the local craft store to the newest ‘Martha Stewart’-type on the block. This kind of personalized service tells consumers you understand not only their needs, but also your community.

#6: Search easy

Google is so ubiquitous it is a verb. This was made possible largely because the brand is easy to use and always helpful. Taking a page from the Google book, your Web sites should be also be easy to navigate, with search engines and pertinent, updated content for the consumer. If consumers are looking for listings online, shouldn’t your site make it easy to find homes, information and news?

There are lots more ideas coming online every day, but these are a great place to start as we enter a more virtual branding world of the next generation brokerage.

3 thoughts on “Building Your Brand in the Next Generation: Emulate the Pros

  1. Thanks for continually providing great advice regarding branding. There’s more to building a 1.5 or 2.0 strategy than understanding technology. It’s also about much more than making things look pretty. There has to be a substantial business model behind the endeavor that differentiates agents and brokers. Consumers can sense almost immediately if a branding proposition is just pomp and circumstance.

  2. I have a question. Many real estate brands have a luxury real estate sub-brand, but what does it say about the main brand if it requires a special designation for multi-million dollar properties? I am concerned it says “here is our high end brand” and the subtext is “that one over there is our low end brand”. help!

    Signed,
    Paranoid in Westchester

  3. Great question Greg! Welcome to the topic of portfolio branding. Whether or not you need one, depends on the buying behaviour and preferences of relative market segments. Commodity brands seem to stretch more easily across segments when they involve a low involvement purchase decision (eg iPhone) versus something like a car or a house. Take BMW for example…they market the 3 and 5 series to a mass market and the more potent performance versions of these same cars are sub-branded under the M class., Not to say the 3 series is low end, just low-er.
    I think the same with real estate branding. Your regular brand may be your 3 series, but for that 10% of the market that demads to be seen consuming something different, you add the “M”. Some markets may not demand this at all, but my bet with Westchester and some of the clients you will come across there, they don’t want to be seen with the brand that works for 90% of the market… as they in fact see themselves differently.

    There is a great article on the topic here if you like to take a peek.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE57C0NT20090813

    It;s about GAP jeans adding a premium brand to their line up to capture more market share. Now GAP is certainly not seen as K-Mart, but it’s not True Religion either..
    hope this helps
    cheers
    Camilla

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