In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
A Miami real estate agent is questioning her brokerage’s direction due to its “old-school” image and branding.
Perception is reality, especially in a style-conscious place like Miami. The unfortunate reality is that my real estate office is perceived as old-fashioned and behind the times, largely because we have been using the same branding and imaging for the past 15 years, and our office is in desperate need of a makeover.
As I visit with colleagues in their offices, flip through local lifestyle magazines and observe local advertising billboards, I see our competitors presenting very modern, hip, cutting-edge identities complete with eye-popping graphic design, crisp and innovative logos and high-definition photos of listings and agents. (Who look like fashion models!)
It’s almost embarrassing to see the contrast with our “old-school” office, and the concern I have is more than skin deep: I believe that it demonstrates a reluctance to change, disinterest in keeping up with competitors and stubbornness about sticking with what has worked — in the past.
If I was a buyer or seller considering us versus another office with a fresh image (even though I know we are a superior, more experienced company), I would probably go with the latter.
I don’t have data to back this up, but I believe this is already putting a real strain on my ability to secure listings and our company’s efforts to attract new, dynamic agents.
Without any effort, I believe you could close your eyes right now and picture the logos of companies like McDonald’s, Ford and Coca-Cola.
Why? Because those companies understand the power of consistent imaging and how it translates into strength, longevity and stability in the minds of consumers.
The same is true for our real estate company, which uses a recognized logo that is instantly familiar to many people.
I would argue that we — the company and its agents — are extremely fortunate to have such a renowned image associated with our marketing and that our customers subconsciously make this connection when they choose us to represent them.
Our agents enjoy instant credibility thanks to this logo, which actually makes it easier for them to gain a listing. Buyers and sellers feel much more comfortable depositing their money into an escrow account with an established, solid company they already know.
From time to time, our company does make slight “tweaks” to its logo, shifting its design or angle to give it a fresh look — but the identity does not and should not change altogether.
A perfect example of this is the Miami Dolphins’ logo, which has dramatically evolved over the years, but still maintains the same shape, structure and color scheme as its original design.
Unfortunately, I have seen many companies change a perfectly good logo for something that is unrecognizable or unrelated to the business or the industry.
As far as individual agents are concerned, what they bring to the table is their own “brand.”
Furthermore, our agents can make their own branding and design choices, within reason, when it comes to their individual websites, advertising, marketing, etc., so if they want to present a more modern and novel image on those mediums, they are quite free to do so.
With respect to recruiting other agents, we pride ourselves on securing experienced agents who have been in the business for a little while, as opposed to folks who are just getting started, and may tend to be a little younger. I am comfortable presenting a solid, classic identity for our company with this in mind.
How to meet halfway
Both sides make valid points, and there is plenty of room for common ground.
Real estate offices in major metropolitan areas such as Miami should make an effort to stay fresh and modern and update their branding, marketing, identity, etc., from time to time. This may also include a redesign of the company’s offices.
However, the company’s logo (and/or its most identifiable imagery) should stay consistent, to stay connected with the consumers who are familiar with it.
Doing this creates the impression of a company that understands its strengths but is also comfortable with change and improvement.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, leading the activities of more than 170 agents. He is also a working Realtor who sells more than 150 homes a year. In 2017, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce honored him with the R.E.A.L. award in the category of “Real Estate Broker – Residential.”