A sign guy's perspective on real estate agent branding

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Here is a great article about branding and sign usage for the real estate industry.  I found this one very interesting and relevant.

Original content by Monte Pratt

Custom Real Estate Sign Now, I know most people are saying to themselves "What can a guy that makes signs know about real estate?"  Okay, you got me... not much.  I am a simple creature that loves graphic design that strives to keep a sign shop from running me.  Furthermore, I pledge to each and everyone of you not to be an expert in your industry.  However, there is something going on in the real estate industry that is notable and worthy of sharing.

The philosophy of marketing and branding according to Keller Williams Realty.

Stefan Swanepoel's report on "The Most Recognizable Brands for 2009" showed Keller Williams Realty as most recognized brand.  

Why is that?  In my opinion, it's the agents with Keller Williams Realty that have made the company the most recognized brand.  Gary Keller's philosophy in marketing and branding allows the agent more freedom than any other national real estate franchise.  Now, some might think that allowing the agent to use their own logos on their marketing materials could dilute the corporate brand. Remember the NAR survey? It was NAR that concluded that prospects choose to do business with real estate agents - not real estate companies. Gary embraced this concept and now the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  The irony of this report is that the most recognized brand is a brand that does no advertising, marketing or promotion for itself.  Franchises, brokerages, and offices could learn something from this AND agents should learn something from this also.

A few years ago, there was an article in the Keller Williams Realty publication "OUTFRONT" that I think illustrates the mind of Gary Keller:

...three out of the four ‘for sale’ signs on one particular street were Keller Williams signs.  “Look at those signs - every one of them is different.  You might not even know that they’re Keller Williams unless you really looked at them,” commented Mary Keller.  I appreciated her observation, but said, “Maybe you’re missing the real point:  Our agents have the listings.”  •  Keller Williams® Realty OUTFRONT • Vol. 2  No. 5  Pg. 3

As a graphic designer and an approved vendor for Keller Williams Realty International, it is a wonderful challenge to work with almost 80,000 agents that all want the the same thing, something unique.  A typical request from a Keller Williams agent is "I'm new and I want custom signs, but all I have is my name and photo.  So, play jazz and dazzle me.  Make it different!"  We walk gingerly up to the standards but always keep mindful of what will be well received - both the customer, KWR International and in the community.  Here's a link to our Keller Williams Realty page on our website for some examples of what we have done.

So, what have I concluded?  A personalized, custom yard sign gives prospects the feeling that they are working with someone they know.  Someone they can trust.  The ultimate goal in real estate is to create a continuous stream of new listings.  By embracing Gary's philosophy in marketing and branding, you can strengthen your business and image in the market place and generate the new listing activity for which you aim.  We believe in his philosophy and focus on building the agent name and brand.  The success of Keller Williams Realty proves that Gary's strategy is a win-win and that the public gets it.

The philosophy at Keller Williams is one that we encourage agents in all size companies to embrace; Dare to set yourself apart with one of your most visible marketing tools, your listing signs. The only question is, does your company allow you the flexibility to differentiate yourself?

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