My Company’s Brand or My Brand, Which Should I Use?

By: Denise Lones

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A client who had hired us to create her brand was approached by her managing broker. He didn’t understand why the agent hired me to do “branding.” His comment? “Why do you need to spend money on that? We have company marketing materials that you can use.”

Sound familiar? I bet it does. Many agents and managing brokers believe that all you ever need is generic company-supplied marketing materials. So, why is it so important for you to have your own “brand identity”? Well, first of all, let’s define brand identity:

Image + Message = Brand Identity

What do you think of when someone says “Aflac”? I’ll bet it’s a duck. How do I know this? Because the advertising campaign for Aflac Insurance has ingrained in our heads the image of a duck saying “Af-lac!” What this large and previously unknown insurance company did was to make everybody aware of its presence – with a duck! Seriously, who ever heard of Aflac before? I bet you didn’t know it was founded in 1955. But find me one person who hasn’t heard of it now.

McDonald’s has its arches. Geico has its gecko. Target has its red & white bulls-eye. And the list goes on. People remember visual images. They work. They’re successful at keeping the company top of mind.

So what does this have to do with you? As an agent, you face a ton of fierce competition. There are probably hundreds – if not thousands! – of agents in your marketplace. Tell me, how many of those agents are branded? Sure, there are the well-known real estate companies with easily identifiable images. But how many individual agents have taken the extra step to uniquely brand themselves?

Not many.

Truth is, agents who invest in branding get more clients because they get remembered. I cannot tell you the number of clients who have reported to me that after they got their branding done that potential buyers and sellers picked up the phone and called them because they remembered them from a mailing or a letter they had sent or an open house they had done.

Look at me and my zebras. For years, I’ve used zebra stripes as my brand. People remember me. They may not remember my face, but when I start to teach a class and those zebra stripes come on the Powerpoint inevitably someone says, “Oh! You’re the Zebra Lady!”

But branding is more than just pretty pictures or a mascot. Your brand identity must communicate what makes you the best person to do business with. There must be a message that supports the brand. For example, people know when the zebra brand shows up on the screen that they are in for a great class because I consistently deliver great classes chock-full of information and I deliver it in a fun way. The zebra brand equates to real estate knowledge, business know-how, great ideas, and an element of fun.

So, how about you? What do people get from working with you? Consistency? Expertise? Valuable real estate market information? Your custom branding must clearly deliver your unique message.

But back to your company’s marketing materials. If you have a company which has created a strong, recognizable brand you’d be foolish not to take advantage of that. For example, I used to work for RE/MAX. I used the RE/MAX logo in all my marketing. I would have been crazy not to. RE/MAX has a stellar reputation and the very fact I was a part of it boosted my own image. But I combined it with my own visuals and message.

It was a “one-two” punch!

When you combine your personal brand with that of your company it’s the best of both worlds. Not only are you letting people know that you are a part of a responsible and respectable organization, you are also making sure they know you are not just another agent within that organization.

Your company has figured out the power of branding, and the importance of applying their brand and look to everything they do. So, take a page from their book! Create the brand of “you.” Leverage your company’s brand by including their name on your marketing materials, but create your own special image. After all, your big powerhouse company has thousands and thousands of agents who all appear exactly the same to potential clients. You’d better figure out a way to stand out in that crowd!

Remember: there’s nothing wrong with the marketing materials from your company. But if you want to skyrocket your business, a strong and personal brand identity will make you stand out in a sea of competition.


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–>By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI – The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things “real estate”. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.



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