When is it the Right Time to Develop a Brand?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Franklin Homes Realty LLC

When is it the Right Time to Develop a Brand?When I got into real estate six years ago branding myself was never discussed. I joined a big box brokerage and no one there was talking about branding. After all, isn't that why we went with a big box company? So we could jump on their branding wagon?

I was there for four years. I didn't feel they were helping me to develop my own identity in real estate. That's not the primary reason I left that brokerage, but it did contribute to the decision.

It has been over two years since I left that company. Those two years have been my best years in real estate.

My husband, Tom, got his license earlier this year and joined me in the business. The question has come up as to when is it the right time to develop a brand? What factors should we consider before developing a brand? Such as, is there a certain income level or number of transactions we should reach before developing a brand?

For those of you who actually get paid to brand agents, please don't take offense. We haven't sought the help of professionals because we disagree about what it really means to brand ourselves.

For instance, I think that consumers aren't really interested in real estate agents. They are interested in what we can provide. What is it that we provide? We provide access to the homes they want to see. Now, we know we provide much more than that. However, if consumers could somehow by-pass real estate agents during a transaction, I believe they would.

The question: How do we achieve that through our brand? Should our brand incorporate our area (100% of our business this year came from Franklin) or should we focus in on our identity, Tom and Tammie White or TW Realty Group or whatever else sounds good. I have one vision and Tom has another.

Since I value the opinion of this group, what is your take? When is it the right time to develop a brand?

Posted by
Tammie White, Managing Broker/Owner
Franklin Homes Realty LLC
Franklin, TN
(615) 495-0752 
This posting with the content written here and photographs displayed are the intellectual property and opinions of Tammie White of Franklin Homes Realty LLC. Any party who uses this material without the written permission of Tammie White is subject to copyright infringement and possible lawsuit.

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Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

My answer is so simple. From the get go. I started day one needing a photo for the real estate magazine as an intro in to the business. I pulled out a new photo of me holding G olden retriever pups so in that moment a three decade affinity marketing campaign started.

Dec 12, 2013 10:48 PM #19
Steven Barks
Worth Clark Realty - Chesterfield, MO
Director of Operations

I've got a lot of opinions on this and I certainly agree with you that clients aren't intersted in your personal life (like some of the big box advertising going on right now). They are interested in whether or not you will do a good job. Your niche, your territory, your numbers, and your client reviews are the factors in that.

Just keep in mind, you must look at it through the eyes of the consumer, and not the eyes of the real estate agent. Ask yourself, why are my clients hiring me? Better yet, ask your clients why they are hiring you. I bet they won't say "because you run marathons outside of being a real estate agent". Build your brand around what makes you successful.

NAR releases plenty of data that shows only about 3% of buyers and sellers choose a particular agent because of the brand affiliation. Essentially, clients aren't looking to have the logo on the sign in their yard. They look for great customer service and results.

Dec 12, 2013 10:57 PM #20
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author










Dec 12, 2013 11:02 PM #21
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Often folks hide behind the expensive franchise and wearing the off color jacket and feel security of needing it. But the price you pay might be better served creating your own marketing music. Insecurity can be beaten with pick yourself up, create your own brand and stand above the herd. Do it different than all the rest.

Dec 12, 2013 11:38 PM #22
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Congratulations on your success. Think I am just too old to start to develop my own brand. Let me re-phrase that. Don't want to work that hard. I don't need a big box to survive. But I think it helps. The balloons have never hurt me.

Dec 13, 2013 12:01 AM #23
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Tammie, wow, some great comments here! I've been working on doing this myself since I've moved from a big name brand brokerage a year ago but have not really stuck to one thing and ran with it.

Dec 13, 2013 01:23 AM #24
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

When? Anytime, all the time, right away. We had our own website, even when we worked for another Broker, when we opened our own office we just changed the details. But the brand needs to be you as a real estate agent, not you personally. I really don't think most people care about your personal life

Dec 13, 2013 01:33 AM #25
Jeanne Gregory
RE/MAX Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
The most important home I sell is YOURS!

I'm with Bill.  The balloon doesn't hurt a thing, but it's not for everyone.  I've noticed that since I have been reading your posts, I associate you with the Franklin area.  I agree, the client is looking for someone to help, not someone who touts themselves.

Dec 13, 2013 01:45 AM #26
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Tammie- I've been reading the comments here and there are some really good and wise ones.  I guess my opinion would be to start immediately once you decide on what you want your brand to be known for.  There are experts here, so you've been given good advice.  PS  Happy Birthday!

Dec 13, 2013 01:53 AM #27
Women of Westchester Working Together
Women of Westchester Working Together - West Harrison, NY
Women helping Women get ahead

Great calls on both books.  I have the tom Peters one here and may reread it.

I'm not so sure abt the geography...important for SEO, but not necessarily for branding.  We all get that you are Franklin...but that's not differentiated vs. all the other agents in Franklin.  Do a 3 C's analysis.  Focus on your target customer.  What do they want/need and how are you differentiated to service that.

Dec 13, 2013 02:51 AM #29
Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

I just left you a message. Give me a call :)

Dec 13, 2013 04:41 AM #30
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Pamela - It's a confusing thing.

Michael - I agree people prefer teams.

Barbara - I think we're trying to accomplish too much with our brand. We're small enough that it's not too late to do something with a brand. So the question is--do we brand ourselves, as in TW Realty Group or the The White Team or do we brand our market Franklin homes?

Debbie - I love your brand. I wish we could come up with an idea like that one.

Jeff - That sounds good to me. Now to just put all the pieces together.

Michael - I am thinking on those lines but confused how to make it come together.

Raymond - Okay.

Nina - I think I've created the business but other than my geographic location, I don't see how to brand it.

Mike - I think it's going to be interesting.

Michael - I still work for a broker, just not a big national chain.

Richard - I'll read it.

Marti - Thanks.

Jill - That's my thoughts.

Bryan - Thank you for the offer. Crazy day today but I will give you a call in the next couple of days. Hurry up and finish that book.

Tom - Now if I could just come up with the right concept.

Fernando - It's interesting that you bring up the black vest. Whenever I where the blue sweater you see in my photo, I get compliments. Every single time I where it. After doing some research on the color blue, I learned it signifies honesty and trust. As a result, I where this blue sweater to every listing appointment and buyer consultation. I'm even loading up my wardrobe with the clothes using the same color. When we finally develop a brand, this will be the primary color.

Doug - It's hard to really brand customer service when you're not a big company like Disney.

Cheryl - I love the way you've done that.

Steven - I wasn't talking about using my personal life in my brand. When I see branding, it's usually around an agent's name. My point was I don't think consumers care anything about our name. What they really care about is the information we provide to them. How do I use that and brand it?

Richie - You make everything look so easy.

Andrew - Exactly what I'm shooting for.

Bill - That's great.

Cindy - It's a lot of work.

Leslie - I wasn't referring to my personal life but I usually see agents branding themselves. For instance, The Jones Realty Group or The Smith Team. That doesn't tell me anything about what they do or what their market is. I was looking for something fresh. That you don't see anyone else doing. My favorite example of excellent branding is our own, Debbie Gardner's, The Flooring Girl. I think that branding is a stroke of genius. That's a brand that is actually marketable. She may be able to sell that brand.

Jeanne - Thank you. I agree.

Kathy - Thank you. You must of seen that on my FB page.

Jeremy - So would I.

Debbie - What's a three C's analysis?

Martha - Got it. I'm interested. I'll call.

Dec 13, 2013 05:37 AM #31
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Branding is the way of the future for all agents. You need self identity to grow your own business. It has to be about you the agent.

Dec 13, 2013 08:47 AM #32
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It MUST be a natural progression of who you are or else it will fall on its face.

Dec 13, 2013 12:46 PM #33
Aaron Hofmann
Atlanta Communities - Smyrna, GA
aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings

I believe branding should never be based on the agent. Brands that are so tied to an individual's identity lose a significant amount of value when you want to leave the business. Centering your brand on an area allows you to create a valuable asset that you can sell at anytime. You spend a lot on branding, so think of it like an investment and understand that while you receive a return on your investment over the years, you eventually want to liquidate the asset.

Dec 13, 2013 08:28 PM #34
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

To me branding is about you, the agent and what you bring to the table.  Your brand should be recognized by consistency in marketing materials and theme.  Sounds like you have a color.  I work for the largest company in my area, but my clients don't necessarily care who I hang my license with.  They are buying into me and what I deliver.  Providing information in a consistent way about who you are is a great first step in creating recognition for yourself.  You have the area, you have a color, you just need a catch phrase or logo that you can put everywhere to brand yourselves.  Good luck!

Dec 13, 2013 10:54 PM #35
Ben Ganje + Partners
Lakes Sotheby's International Realty - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Market Leader

Great article! Successful real estate agents understand the importance of developing their own brand.  As you put it, agents in 'big box' brokerages will have some bigger hurdles to overcome as the world of the web dictates how Buyers and Seller perceive agents in the market.

Dec 14, 2013 01:57 AM #36
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

I think the sooner the better, branding is how people precieve you 

Dec 14, 2013 12:33 PM #37
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Brand YOU. People are hiring you not the company. What can you do for them? 

Just left you a message.

Dec 17, 2013 09:09 AM #38
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Sorry I missed this post.  I agree with Margaret, and if you are your own company, you need to create a brand that works together. A

Jan 24, 2014 06:16 AM #39
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