In the world of marketing lingo, a brand is one of the more mystical concepts.
It’s a term often used, but not often used consistently. What is a “brand,” anyway?
A “brand name” refers to the name signifying the source of a product or service. Coca-Cola. Ford. Starbucks. These are often trademarked. But a “brand” in a more esoteric sense refers to the perception customers have about that product, service or in this case, real estate agent. As an agent, you don’t really need the former. But you do need the latter. So let’s explore the basics of building your brand.
Put a stake in the ground
The first part of building your brand is to define who you are. What do you want to be known for as a real estate agent? What matters most to you? What makes you unique?
This idea of being unique is critical to developing a brand. In marketing lingo, it’s your unique selling position, or USP. It also goes by unique value proposition. With either moniker, the key word is “unique.” Is a certain neighborhood your forte? Is negotiation your specific expertise? Identify your professional and personal strengths. Write them down.
Now dive deeper into some of the questions we asked above and create a written portrait of who you are and what matters to you. What kind of real estate professional do you strive to be? These are your core values, and they help define your USP.
Build your logo
Now you have a Rosetta Stone for your USP. What colors best suit the message you want to convey? What kind of font matches your approach? These will become your brand image or logo and should inform all your marketing activities. Creating a consistent look and feel is all part of your branding efforts. (At Adwerx, we had our own crack at rebranding and shared our story here.)
Who is your customer? (You might be surprised!)
This may seem like a softball, but it’s a trickier question than you think. If you answered “everybody!” then you aren’t there yet. You should have a specific customer in mind. In fact, to help know your customer, you should be able to answer some very specific questions.
In marketing lingo, this is known as creating a “persona,” an avatar of the ideal customer you want to work with. In order to understand your customers, you need to know what matters to them, what their pains are. Even knowing what kind of food they like and where they go on vacation will help you create a more detailed portrait and then provide even better service. We created a downloadable Persona Worksheet to help get you started.
Your North Star
Go back through your USP. Does it work well with the persona worksheet you’ve put together? Does your value proposition answer the needs of your customer? If not, tweak it until it does. Return to your USP with every marketing decision you make. Use it as a litmus test to ensure the choices you make are true to the brand story you’ve created and express the values you represent.
Now that you have a branding guide in place, it’s time to decide where you’ll market your brand. This will be informed by your personal — where are your customers? Are they on social? Online? In a digital world, imagine your choices as TV channels. To build your brand, you want to be on the channel where your customer is.
Start small. Think BIG. Measure everything.
Pick a few channels to explore at first. Choose them based on your personal skill set and aptitude. Don’t listen to what others say you “should” do, create an authentic path to follow that will be true to your voice and reach your audience
Set a goal. What are you trying to achieve? Make it specific and make it measurable. In marketing lingo, this is called a “key performance indicator” or KPI. It’s a way to check in and see how you’re doing on your branding goals. Identify the right KPI for each channel. For example, you don’t measure leads with native advertising, you measure reach. You don’t measure clicks with word of mouth marketing. You don’t measure calls with social media unless there is a specific call to action.
Test those messages to see what works. Don’t be afraid to experiment as long as effort is aligned with core values.
Be in it for the long haul
Stay focused on foundational efforts, especially while you experiment. Building a brand requires building trust. Show up. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be consistent. Stay on message. Always be true to your voice.
And last but not least…. have fun! Building a brand is not much different that building a personal relationship. It takes hard work, consistency, and commitment. Don’t forget to smile along the way.