I've been thinking about branding a lot lately. One of my main focuses for 2011 is increasing the number of sign ups we get to ActiveRain on a daily basis. In doing that, we have to think about how we brand our company in the advertising we do to target new members. But more recently, I wrote a blog post about using community events to drive traffic to your blog. Wanda made a comment that she always gets calls about the events she writes about, but she needs to get better at converting those calls to leads.
It got me thinking. I don't think converting calls about community events to leads is going to be very effective. Even with a great script you probably won't convert more than about 1 in 50 calls to a prospect (although I would love someone to prove me wrong as I just grabbed that number out of the air). My answer to her led me to this blog post about branding. Go read my answer real quick. Now that you've read that.......
How many of you have a brand?
Wikipedia defines a brand as: the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan.
At the earlier RainCamps in 2010, we did a small segment on branding. One of the examples Ben used is of a guy in his market, Bellingham Washington that uses a picture of the back of his head, and his slogan is something like "Let's get together face to face". Everything he does, his business cards, his website, his blogs, his Facebook Fan page, everything, uses this consistent message and theme. A picture of the back of his head, and the slogan 'Let's get together face to face". It sticks out. It's different, people will remember it (although he probably doesn't get too many people walking up to him at local events and saying 'Hey, you are the back of the head guy'........).
As I try to think of some of the brands our members have developed, I have a heck of a time having many of them pop into my head. I've asked quite a few other people also and not many names immediately pop to mind. You can probably think of someone in your own market, and I'll bet they do a fair amount of business. Is it because I see so many similar ones every day that they all blend together? That probably has something to do with it, but that's a challenge you are facing when trying to differentiate yourself in the minds of consumers, so that's not a good reason.
You know who sticks out to me? Anna Banana. I can't even spell her last name off the top of my head, (Kruchten, but I had to look it up). But it doesn't matter, I identify with her brand. Most of the stuff she does online incorporates that brand in some way. In getting ready to write this post, I called Anna and we chatted about her brand. It was a decision she made in 1993, about five years after she had been in the business. After a challenge from her real esate coach, she created a brand to bring out her fun side. By her own admission, she was a little too serious at that point in her business. She tells me after 6 months, she saw an increase in her business and the brand became an integral part of how consumers identified with her. In the last two years, she has scaled back on the brand, because her market is not a lot of fun these days, and she doesn't think consumers who are in the middle of foreclosure or doing a short sale on their home are interested in the fun side of real estate. But it has not been completely removed from her marketing. She still has Anna 'Banana' on most of her online marketing and she still has consumers, and agents in her market who identify with that brand. When she was fully utilizing her brand (it was the name of her company at the time) it completely enveloped every part of her marketing. Her business cards reflected it, she (or someone from her company) would wear the banana costume to community events, the brand permeated all of her marketing efforts.
So back to the question I posed earlier........Do you have a brand? Or maybe the more important question is, does anyone else know you have a brand?
In a day and age where the majority of people go online for answers to every question they have, to me, a successful real estate brand would be something that crosses easily from online to in person. In my answer to Wanda's question, I used the example of someone using all pink. Pink business cards, pink outfits, pink signs, pink blog header, pink website, pink, pink, pink because that would translate easy from online to in person. It could be brown for all I care. It could be checkered, it could be white. It doesn't matter what it is......all that matters is that it is memorable, or as Seth Godin would say, a purple cow.
Looking at the definition, we would want the brand to be the identity of our business. So a good slogan would help. How about 'All of the Passion, None of the Aggression'. The color pink has all kinds of associations that we could use to build our slogan and develop our brand. You could donate 5% of your commissions to breast cancer awareness. You could always give your clients a closing gift of pink tulips. You could make a gift package that included pepto-bismol for your short sale clients. I'm about the furthest thing you can get from a brand expert, so these ideas are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea, right? You would be creating a brand, that people could identify with.
The reason I'm using a color, is because it translates very well from online to in person. If my brand was pink, and 1400 people looked at my blog post about a local event, many of whom would probably be attending said event, it makes sense that when they get there, they are able to easily pick me out from the other 10 agents that may be there working the crowd and networking. I want them to say to me "Hey, you are the 'Pink' guy.....thanks for writing that blog post about this event, we thought it was next weekend."
If your brand is 'Your REALTOR® for life', it might be time to take a closer look at how you brand your business.........because it's not memorable.
Do you have a brand? More important, can anyone remember it? If not, you might want to start thinking about this. We have some cool stuff in store to help a few lucky people get a brand designed and launched and if you have a great idea, it could be you......