Effective branding is at the heart of virtually every successful business, yet it is a rarity in the real estate industry. If you’re branding your business with your name, it may be time to take a different tack.

  • Branding with your name is a blunder because most people won’t remember it. It’s better to let people know what you do.

Effective branding is at the heart of virtually every successful business, yet it is a rarity in the real estate industry. If you’re branding your business with your name, it may be time to take a different tack.

Over my 30-plus years in the industry, I’ve been affiliated with several of the major brands in the business.

The standing joke in Coldwell Banker is that people often think that they’re in the banking business. At Century 21, a common question is “Are you the people who have the great deals on car insurance?”

And by the way, exactly what does Re/Max and ERA stand for? (Real Estate Maximums and Electronic Realty Associates.)

Effective vs. ineffective branding

The challenge in each of these examples is that the branding doesn’t meet the three simple criteria for having an effective brand. An effective brand does each of the following:

  1. It’s memorable
  2. It immediately brings the product being sold to mind.
  3. It identifies a specific target market.

Here are three examples of effective branding from outside of real estate that are easy to recognize:

The ‘Uncola’

7Up’s tagline, the “Uncola,” is easy to remember and specifically targets people who want something other than a Coke or a Pepsi.

‘The ultimate driving machine’

You may not know what the letters BMW stand for, but its branding has stood the test of time. The reason? The tagline tells what its product does — it gives you the “ultimate” driving experience. Referencing what the product does is much more effective than branding with only a name.


This is a superb example of strong branding — one word that says exactly what the product does: provides “flicks” (movies) on the “net.”

In terms of real estate brands, the one that best fits the criteria above is relatively new — NextHome. This brand describes exactly what it does in a single word: find your next home.

The least effective brand in the business: Your name

In contrast, the most common type of branding in the real estate industry is based on people’s names. This is the least effective approach to branding because virtually everyone has difficulty remembering names.

The reason is that every day you are constantly bombarded with names of people you meet, names in the news, plus thousands of product and place names. The reason you have trouble recalling names is due to “interference.”

To illustrate how interference works, you can probably easily remember what you had for dinner last night. On the other hand, it’s highly unlikely that you remember what you had for dinner a year ago.

The reason is you have had 365 dinners since then. The memory of all these other dinners “interferes” with the memory that you are attempting to recall.

Complicating the situation even further, even if the customer remembers your name when they do meet you, memory research shows that we forget 70 percent of what we have learned within the first 24 hours after learning has taken place.

People remember functions, not names

If you were to meet me at a social event, and I introduced myself as Bernice Ross of ABC Realty, chances are you will remember the “blond lady who sells real estate,” but you won’t remember my name.

Furthermore, if you work for a brokerage such as Coldwell Banker or Keller Williams that use two names in their branding, the consumer is more likely to remember the brokerage brand because they see it on every just listed card, for sale sign, business card, newspaper ad and web page that the companies’ agents send out.

How to create a memorable brand

To establish a memorable brand, make sure that you reference “homes,” “real estate” or “properties” as well as niche or a specific geographical area that you serve.

For example:

  • Phoenix Probate Real Estate Specialists
  • Westlake Waterfront Properties
  • Richmond Historical Homes by Sally Agent

Sample URLs could be www.WestlakeWaterfrontProperties.com or RichmondHistoricalHomes.com. If the URL is not available, choose a different brand.

Be sure that the URL you choose references both your geographical location as well as your specific niche.

Branding is the most effective when you use the brand on all of your marketing materials. Consequently, your website, your cards and each advertising piece you send out should contain the same branding.

(Some real estate regulators have started to crack down on the wording that can be used in individual agent and team branding, so check the law in your state before proceeding).

The good news about owning your own brand

If your company is purchased or goes out of business or if you decide to change brokerages, having your own brand allows you continue to market without losing momentum.

In contrast, if you are relying solely on your company’s branding, you would have to start your branding efforts all over — this translates into lost income.

Remember, the key to successful branding is to let your consumer know what you do, where you do it and who you do it with!

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTrainingand www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

Email Bernice Ross

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