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Real Estate Branding Madness – Is this the worst ever?

March is one of my favorite months. Spring real estate is revving up, it’s almost sailing season and my Jayhawks frequently make long NCAA Tournament runs.

Last night, DePaul and Georgetown fought it out, with DePaul narrowly winning 60-56. However, neither team is likely to reach the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday. Their records are not very strong and the conference is a mess and falling by the wayside as management lacks oversight and unity.

Last night, I took a photo of the game and I believe it illustrates a powerful point about bad branding and lack of unity.photo (56).JPG

In real estate, I frequently get mixed messages from real estate companies, brokers and brands.  Many brands seem to not care what agents promote, how or when they use logos or corporate identification so long as it meets the bare minimum standard.  Really, its up to the brand’s leadership and marketing department to define and set boundaries.  If you own your business – it’s up to you.

The Big East marketing department may have been giving it the old college try, however, they clearly lack strategy and focus.  The photo above is a perfect bad example.

The 6+ various visual logos for “BigEast” exemplify the brand confusion that exists in our market.

BigEast logo

Consumers in your neighborhood don’t understand real estate company structure, and they shouldn’t have to. They ought to know you, because referrals still make up the bulk of the national transactions. But your sphere of influence, farm and highly targeted prospects ought to receive a singular clear message about who you are.

Branding and marketing does not end at a singular crisp logo.

Your logo should mirror your technology, should mirror your email content (try HappyGrasshopper and bombbomb), should mirror your listing descriptions, should mirror your phone system (try BetterVoicemail) in order to illustrate to your customers and prospects that you are organized, unified and competent.

Everything a consumer hears, touches, sees or feels about your brand ought to be unified; uniformity builds credibility. (See: Referrals)

When consumers see a confused brand on your site, Twitter or Facebook, they doubt the brand’s credibility and ability to execute.

Want a good example? On the same screen above, The GEICO logo stands out.  Every screen, bus, billboard and even the banner flying above the beach has the same brand.  It’s easy to picture the logos all capital letter font. It’s everywhere and it never changes.  In one commercial break last night, GEICO provided excellent contrast to the BIG EAST cluster.  3 separate ads  feature a Pig, an Owl, and a Gecko.  All three played back to back in one commercial break.  The difference?  All three use the same logo, and the same tag line “Geico, 15 min could save you….”

Zillow says it will spend 64 Million this year on advertising and GEICO spent around a billion with Martin Agency last year.  You don’t have that kind of coin, but there are marketing lessons to learn from leaders that can change your business in 2014.

3 Spring Cleaning Tips for your Real Estate Marketing

-The Big Picture (Sum of its Parts)

A Brand is more than a logo (but not more than one logo) Its everything you produce, say, do and achieve. Ensure everything from lead generation, to mobile contract signing delivers a consistent message, tone and image. Coordinate and discuss that brand with your team.

-ROI Focus (some of its parts)

I’m not advocating TV ads for your company. Measure ROI of your consumer facing marketing tools.  Invest in those that deliver, cut the others. Remind your team you are focused on maximizing effectiveness for clients.

-Perception is Brand – (Plan Some)

Your clients, prospects and sphere of influence all have their own perception of your brand. Adding floor plans and professional photos to your online listings won’t change your brands perception to “transparent and informative” by itself. You must help your team help your clients with information and clarity in everything you do.

Creating a basic brand plan is not very difficult, though evaluating your current brand may be a little tough. Both activities may save you from spending on counter productive expenses. In the end, it’s about building something people appreciate and passionately recommend that can grow the bottom line and change people’s lives.

About Chris Drayer

An entrepreneur and CMO for hire. Founded FinchMktg to help those in the real estate vertical with technology and marketing with clients including FloorPlanOnline, RealSatisfied, LiveLoveRealty & TheCondoHub and Co-Founded several yet to be launched Real Estate startups.

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