Branding surrounds you in all aspects of your daily life. You’ve probably heard the term thrown around by advertising and marketing experts, but you may be a bit confused about what branding actually is. You may guess that a brand is simply a logo. Iconic images, like Apple’s famous fruit logo or McDonald’s golden arches, would likely come to mind.
A brand is a bit more than just logos themselves. A brand is the combination of thoughts and opinions that these logos inspire when you see them. There’s a reason why people camp out on sidewalks for new products or go out of their way to eat at one restaurant over another. They strongly identify with the values, thoughts, and feelings they associate with these companies. Simply put, they connect with the brand. According to the Harvard Business Review, this value-based connection between a brand and its customers is the secret to developing relationships.
Branding and name recognition are extremely crucial in the real estate field. Homebuyers look to real estate agents for guidance through one of the biggest purchases of their lives. The personal nature of the industry requires that client relationships be grounded in trust. What do potential clients think when they hear about you as an agent? Do they immediately view you as a valued expert they can trust? Developing a personal brand that conveys this level of trust and professionalism is paramount to your success as a real estate agent.
Strive to make your brand a true, authentic representation of who you are. Your brand should tell your story in a way that connects with potential clients. When your brand story is authentic and relatable, clients start to develop trust from the first time they encounter it. Aim to build your business on this foundation of trust.
Don’t put all of your branding energy into traditional channels. Social media has drastically changed the communication landscape. Potential clients expect they’ll be able to connect with you on social media and what they find there will tell them a lot about you. Brokers that neglect social media do so at the peril of their business. To utilize social media, all you really need is an internet connection. The size of your company and the resources available are irrelevant, so it’s the perfect channel to develop your personal brand.
Be sure that your strategy is effective and framed correctly. Social media marketing is a completely different beast from traditional marketing. Think of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat as two-way channels that focus on conversation as opposed to traditional, one-way marketing methods. Leverage these channels to post real estate tips, highlight current listings, or communicate directly with customers.
Consistency is crucial when it comes to your social strategy. Post regularly so that your followers will begin to expect content from you. Incorporate the style, tone, and imaging used in your other branding efforts to create a cohesive picture.
Connect with the Market
Personal branding is essentially storytelling. As a well-branded agent, your brand will instantly tell a potential customer who you are as a professional. If you were to sit down to write a story, one of the first things you would need to do is identify your audience. The same is true of developing a brand. What do your ideal clients look like? Where do they live? Where would they like to live? Why are they looking for a home now? What are they looking for in a real estate agent?
The more that you answer questions like these about your ideal clients, the better you’ll be able to hone your brand story. Define your ideal customers and utilize this process as a way to frame your branding so that it strikes a chord.
Curate Your Legacy
Personal branding is certainly not a guessing game. You want to be very precise about the message you send to your ideal clients. Leveraging the power of awards, recognitions, and certifications from outside industry organizations can really boost your brand. Don’t be afraid to promote these awards and recognitions as they further establish your reputation as a respected real estate expert. Always include any logos or seals for awards and certifications you’ve obtained in your marketing materials and social profiles.
If you’re just starting out in the business and the trophy shelf is a bit bare, focus on joining industry professional organizations and gaining certifications that can bolster your brand. Set goals and milestones that will line you up for recognition. This by no means that recognition should be your main source of motivation. If you put in the hard work for your clients, the praise and hardware will come. You should simply account for how valuable these awards are as you’re planning your brand strategy.
Claim Your Space Online
Your social media strategy is only one part of the digital-branding equation; you’ll also want to establish a healthy web presence. Social marketing is great for connecting with clients on a more personal level, but you’ll also need to position yourself online with a branded website and blog.
Purchase a personal web domain. This is crucial even if the brokerage you work for has your information on its own site. If possible, choose a site domain with your full name. Your site doesn’t have to do too much to be effective. At a minimum, it should have vital branded information about you, provide a way for clients to sign up and receive email alerts, and display links to external pages, such as your blog.
A blog is an extremely effective way to build a personal brand by positioning yourself as a resource for real estate knowledge. This is where you’ll post helpful content targeted to your ideal client. Your blog should focus on delivering valuable content only. This is not the place for a hard sale. As you regularly produce valuable content, you’ll begin to build an audience and develop your brand as a trusted expert.
A targeted branding strategy that includes social media, leveraged industry recognition, and targeted online marketing is a great way to establish your brand reputation. The idea is to curate an authentic perception that will instantly establish trust and connect with potential clients. Competition is stiff even in smaller markets. When developed properly, personal branding is the ultimate way to set yourself apart from the crowd and gain an edge against the competition.