Realtor Branding Guide
It takes more than earning your license to make a successful career in real estate. There are hundreds of thousands of licensed real estate agents in the U.S. While most agents are affiliated with a broker and view themselves as a part of a larger team, every Realtor is responsible for his own bottom line. A Realtor should think of himself as a business and treat his work as such, complete with branding and marketing initiatives that will set himself apart from the competition.
Real Estate Branding Walk-Through
Why Brand Yourself?
Branding is a method of gaining name recognition and boosting reputation through the use of recognizable images and language. By building a brand for your real estate business, you’re establishing a professional presence that’s memorable and makes a killer first impression.
When you look more professional on paper, in the media, on your website, or on a billboard, you create a perception of quality service in the minds of your potential clients – so you’ll be at the top of their list when it’s time for signing on with an agent. For these reasons, Realtors with robust brand awareness also typically get more business.
Defining Your Coverage Area and Specialties
Many Realtors achieve a greater level of success by branding themselves as specialists in a specific geographic area or property type. Some Realtors, for instance, specialize in luxury condos or high-end properties. Others focus in on a region or even a few neighborhoods within a larger metropolitan area. This tactic establishes you as a credible authority on properties fitting your specialty, earning you a bigger piece of the market share when it comes to buyers and sellers relevant to your niche.
Even if you’re taking a broader approach, defining your coverage area and areas of expertise is important.
Outline your services, including:
- The areas you serve (states, cities, counties, neighborhoods, metro areas)
- Your specialized expertise (luxury condos, managing rental properties, short sales and foreclosures)
- Your target audience (income and education level, new buyers or existing home owners, budget, financing types
When you convey your specialties in your brand messaging, you’ll attract buyers by creating an immediate connection between their needs and your expertise.
Creating Your Logo
Your real estate logo design doesn’t have to be fancy and sophisticated, but it must be noticeable. Creating a logo is a process you should take seriously, carefully considering how incorporating different colors, shapes, images, and taglines impact your audience.
A logo becomes an integral component of your brand image. It should be memorable and compatible with both web and print. Choose a logo that’s capable of withstanding the test of time – incorporating current trends that are likely to disappear means you’ll be back to the drawing board for a re-design. When you change your brand images, you’re taking a step backwards in terms of brand recognition. So weigh your options carefully and select elements that have staying power as well as those that you can live with long-term.
Colors are Key for Memorable Logos
Color is one of the most important factors in a logo because they create subconscious perceptions in the minds of your prospects. Think about walking through a department store. Notice how different bright colors are used for attracting shoppers’ attention and indicating certain price levels. Red, for example, is often used for clearance items, while a bright, vibrant yellow might indicate a temporary price-cut or limited-time discount.
The same holds true for traffic signs – red means stop, green means go, yellow grabs your attention. The color associations you make in your environment have a subconscious effect on how any logo, image, or advertisement makes you feel.
That said, most Realtors opt for evoking feelings of trust and reliability in their brand imaging rather than anxiety or disarray. Research shows that colors can be as much as 85 percent of the underlying reasons people choose your business over another, and colors can increase brand recognition by as much as 80 percent.
Here are some of the common color associations:
- Yellow – Optimism; indicates sales
- Red – Energy; increases urgency
- Blue – Trust and security
- Green – Wealth
- Orange – Aggression; creates a call to action
- Pink – Romantic and feminine; appeals to women
- Black – Powerful and sleek; used to market luxury products
- Purple – Soothing and calming; typically used for beauty and spa
The color combinations you choose should also be complimentary and not clash. When looking at a color wheel, the most visually appealing color combinations are the hues directly across from one another or adjacent to each other. Combinations that don’t fall into one of these two categories often clash and may turn off your potential clients. Combinations using two colors of equal strength (or about the same darkness or lightness of hue) may not clash, but they often fight for attention and make it difficult for viewers to process the logo – making it less memorable.
Shape and Symmetry Round Out Logo Effectiveness
Colors aren’t the only element of a logo that makes it or breaks it. Also consider shapes and symmetry. Like colors, shapes play a role in the emotions conveyed by your logo.
Some common shape associations include:
- Square – Logic and order; security and containment
- Circle – Warmth and comfort; protection and family; movement and connectedness
- Triangle – Energy and balance; Power and strength
The graphic elements of your logo may not fit neatly into a common shape description, but it’s a safe bet that it conveys the same perceptions as the shape it most closely resembles. There are clear benefits to using any one of the shapes described above for a real estate logo. Most home buyers want security, while warmth and comfort are positive associations related to purchasing a new home.
Symmetry is another important component of any logo. Images that are symmetrical are, as a rule, more aesthetically pleasing. Asymmetrical images, including logos, can put off a sense of disorder or disorganization – and that’s not an impression you want to make.
Finally, graphic elements are often used for illustrating your areas of specialization. A simple graphic of the county you serve, for example, conveys your regional coverage area. A simple illustration of a single-family home provides a visual representation of your focus on single-family homes.
Now that you’ve created a logo as the foundation of your brand image, you can use it in all your marketing communications and visual advertising. Realtors benefit from using a combination of different advertising tactics.
Offline Advertising Methods
Traditional advertising methods still have a valuable place in a Realtor’s branding campaign. The list below includes the most commonly used offline advertising tactics along with the percentage of Realtors who use each method, at least occasionally.
- Newspaper – 28%
- Home books or magazines – 18%
- Television – 5%
- Yard signs – 52%
- Open houses – 44%
Many Realtors use these tactics for promoting their listings, so the competition is fierce. A single exposure to an ad isn’t very effective, so consistency is key. One useful method is using consistency for training your audience to seek out your ads – for instance, an ad with your current listings that appears in the local newspaper every Wednesday. Home buyers quickly learn that Wednesday is the prime opportunity for discovering newly listed properties.
The frequency with which you should use each advertising strategy depends heavily on the local market conditions, habits of your target audience, and the conditions surrounding each listed property. For instance, a yard sign displayed on the lawn of a property surrounded by acres of open land with no neighbors in sight isn’t effective – no one will see it.
Plan your marketing campaigns with these variables in mind. The average home search takes about 12 weeks – so ensure that your advertising messages are frequent enough for reaching the same buyers multiple times throughout their search.
Online Advertising Methods
Sticking to only traditional real estate advertising is a good way to miss out on a huge portion of your target audience, as more consumers are turning to social media and the web at large for evaluating brands, companies and services. In fact, 90 percent of home buyers use an online search at least once during the home buying process.
There are several online advertising tactics Realtors take advantage of, and many of them are free or low-cost and easy to implement:
- A company website
- Local business listings
- Review websites, such as Yelp
- Social media marketing, such as a Facebook Business Page or LinkedIn Company Page
- Pay-per-click advertising
A company website includes costs for a domain name and hosting, as well as the cost of hiring a web designer or purchasing a professional real estate template. Fortunately, there are many real estate website templates available at a reasonable cost, allowing Realtors with minimal technical skills to easily maintain their own websites.
Pay-per-click advertising, or purchasing ads that appear in the search engine results pages based on the searchers’ queries, are sometimes an expensive advertising tactic. This is especially true if you work in a populated metropolitan area where the competition is high for commonly used search terms like “Chicago real estate,” “San Francisco condominiums,” and similar geographic-targeted terms. Still, pay-per-click advertising can be a highly effective marketing strategy for attracting targeted prospects to your business website.
The other marketing tactics mentioned above are free, requiring an investment of only your time. Setting up company pages and local business listings across major social media networks helps your business get discovered by avid social networkers who rely on their connections for recommendations. With Facebook incorporating a more robust search system, having a Facebook Business Page is valuable for more visibility. Likewise, Google+ is now more important for search engine visibility, so creating a Google+ business page is a recommended tactic.
Optimize Your Website
Finally, setting up a real estate website isn’t enough. In addition to implementing additional online advertising and branding campaigns, you’ll want to optimize your website. Website optimization, also known as search engine optimization (SEO), means making your website more visible to searchers by making it more appealing to search engines.
Determining Target Keywords
The first step in website optimization is deciding which terms you’ll emphasize. This is often done using a free tool, the Google Keyword Planner. Enter a search term that’s relevant to your area and services, and the Keyword Planner produces a comprehensive list of related search terms, including data on how often the term is searched for and how tough the competition is. If a search engine likes your website, it will list it higher in the results pages for queries to which it feels your site is most relevant.
A Realtor in New York, for example, wants to appear on the first page when a potential home buyer searches for “New York real estate” or “New York real estate agents.” The process of SEO helps accomplish this goal.
Local search terms are the most valuable for real estate agents. You probably don’t sell properties across the U.S., so buyers searching for general terms like “real estate agent” may not be anywhere near you. There’s no point in attracting those people to your website. Research shows that 69 percent of home buyers begin their search for a new home using a local term.
Also consider using terms that describe your specialties and expertise, such as:
- Oregon short sales
- Los Angeles condominium rentals
- Portland waterfront properties
- New Jersey beachfront homes
- Idaho short sales
Keyword Research Tools
There are dozens of other keyword research tools that help you determine the most relevant and valuable terms for your real estate website optimization efforts.
A few popular alternatives include:
Some are free, and some are paid. Keyword research tools vary widely on features and prices, so evaluate your options carefully before you buy. Many Realtors and other website publishers find they get all the data they need from Google’s free Keyword Planner, while others prefer spending a bit more money for more in-depth data. If you feel like you’re entering uncharted territory and aren’t confident in your abilities, consider hiring an SEO consultant for help.
The web has evolved so dramatically in just a few short years that your optimization efforts don’t end with optimizing your website. Today, about 89 percent of new home shoppers do conduct online searches – but from their mobile devices. That means that your website must be optimized for search and also optimized for mobile devices.
Mobile-optimized websites are typically simplified versions of the primary website. So if your home page is loaded with images and fancy graphics, your mobile home page may contain just a single image – or sometimes none at all – with larger, easier to read and click menu options and buttons.
Why Mobile-Friendly is a Must
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll be risking missing out on potential clients. Mobile users who conduct searches using their devices tend to become frustrated when they land on a site that’s impossible to read and cumbersome to navigate. Because mobile screens are so much smaller than a traditional PC or laptop screen, a standard website doesn’t translate well to a mobile device.
The good news is that if you’ve used a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress to create your real estate website, your template may have a built-in mobile friendly version. If you’re just setting up your website, choose a template offering this option. It basically takes all the work out of your hands and automatically adjusts to the proper format depending on the type of device from which the visitor is accessing the site. Otherwise, contact a mobile designer for help with a mobile version of your site.
Branding is a must for successful Realtors. The most-established and sought-after Realtors in many areas are typically those who treat their careers as a business and actively manage and promote their brands using a variety of online and offline tactics. With some careful planning and strategizing, your brand image can make a lasting impression and drive targeted clients to your door.
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