NEW YORK — Brand awareness drives brokerage and franchise giant Realogy’s success, CEO and Chairman Richard Smith says.

Realogy owns NRT LLC, the largest brokerage in the U.S., and some of the country’s largest franchise brands, including Century 21 Real Estate, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, ERA, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

“We’re brand managers,” Smith told a general session crowd at Real Estate Connect New York City during a one-on-one conversation with Inman Publisher Brad Inman.

Smith emphasized the point after Inman said that he’d recently purchased a home in Los Angeles, and that he did not care whether the real estate agent who represented him was affiliated with a brand.

Richard Smith.

Richard Smith

That focus on brand by the biggest real estate company in the land may seem to be a risky bet, given that independent brokerages are on the rise.

But Smith said Realogy’s brands — which spend millions of dollars on national consumer marketing campaigns — not only attract consumers, but agents.

The technology, reach and capital that Realogy brings to the brokerage behind the agent helps reinforce the critical nature of brand, Smith said.

“We win more than we lose” with the broad focus on brand, Smith said.

It’s not just awareness, he said, but the resources the firm provides its affiliates that really makes brand a powerful asset.

Realogy’s acquisition of tech-focused brokerage ZipRealty for $166 million is one example Smith gave of how the firm supports its brands. Realogy is rolling out ZipRealty’s sophisticated customer relationship management and marketing platform to all of its franchisees starting this year.

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