A rite of passage is held each year by our local Montessori school. The graduation ceremony (click here to see a photo) for sixth-graders culminates with each child walking through a makeshift doorway that ceremoniously delivers them through to the next phase of their life.

Trust me, this event is a tearjerker.

One by one each child is called forth and takes a seat in front of friends and family.

One by one each of the seven teachers steps forward and addresses the child by name and recites the following, "The word that I have chosen for you is …"

The teachers all choose their words independently, formulating them over the six years they’ve spent with the children. These words do not merely describe — they provide a definition of who they are at their core.

"Astute," "anchored," "assertive," "benevolent," "dependable," "empathetic," "generous," "independent," "positive," "wise," to name a few.

With each chosen word, each teacher extrapolates meaning. Of one child, the teacher said, "I am willing to bet you came out the womb that way." The mom was standing a few feet from me, laughing, crying and nodding her head up and down.

As each teacher concludes, they pin their respective card on a ribbon draped across each child’s shoulder.

When the ceremony ended we all stood in line for some delicious barbecue. I paid special attention to these children in a way I never had before: how they participated in the food line; how they interacted with each other during playtime while we parents sat around after dinner dredging on about the economy; how some helped clean up while others looked after the younger kids.

These children were as described. Their words were not chosen at random.

They defined who they were to their core.

The alchemy of real estate branding

What I witnessed last night, innocently and naively offered by a group of the most dedicated teachers I have known during my 21 years of raising kids, would shame every novice real estate copywriter and marketer who took a dime from a broker developing their branding campaign. …CONTINUED

Branding isn’t about pulling a slogan out of some slogan grab bag. It’s not about letting your Web site vendor or marketing guy scribble the same tried and true words and phrases they bestowed on others.

Branding is not about presenting yourself as someone or something you would like others to think you are in hopes that someday you might embody it. Or worse, fool people into thinking that’s who you are.

Branding in real estate cannot occur through some medieval form of alchemy where the transmutation of common lead substances — words — could somehow manifest themselves into the golden value of what your brand is.

"Trusted." "Sophisticated." "Knowledgeable." "Industry leader." "Every one of our agents are executives."

Give me a break. These are nothing but philosopher’s stone.

The preparation of the elixir of longevity

A brand isn’t created. It already exists. A brand is your morals. Your beliefs. The natural organic culture of your organization. It is the lines you draw in the sand that you would never cross. Not even at gunpoint.

As I have witnessed, these are the things you are born with. And the things that you will most likely carry to your grave.

Upon each ribbon, seven words hung. Each embodied the very same striking attribute of the child who bore them. They represented each child as they are. Perhaps even who they will most likely be over the course of their life.

Those words might not be sexy. They might not sound cool. But they are real. And it’s what will draw others to them. Much like the 100-plus people who gathered last night were.

This is the elixir of brand longevity.

Marc Davison is a founding partner of 1000Watt Consulting and national speaker. He can be reached at marc@1000wattconsulting.com.


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