It’s no secret that every successful brokerage’s branding has gone through several iterations since the original as it evolves to meet the needs of a changing market.
These changes concern more than just visuals; they extend to the name and the vision of the company as well. As time goes on, a brand naturally becomes outdated.
However, there is no specific timeframe for which an audit must be performed to identify if a brand is still relevant to it’s market. Therefore, a brokerage firm owner must always ask whether the brand is still effective, and take the steps to ensure it is if a brand audit shows otherwise.
Let’s take Corcoran, for example. This company has rebranded several times, and with good reason. How effective would the below logo be for Corcoran’s existing business?
For one, the company isn’t specific to Manhattan anymore. Plus, that logo screams amateur rather than the luxury feel this brand has become known for. Therefore, a change was essential for growing the relationship it has built with its target demographic.
Times change, and so must your most critical asset: your brand. By now, you likely get the point that the logo you launched your company with is not necessarily meant to last, nor is the one you’ve had for just five years.
So, once you’ve determined your brand is in need of a refresh, where do you go from there?
That’s where the brand audit comes into play.
A thorough audit will help shed light on how your brand is currently performing relative to the market place, as well as how it compares to your stated company goals.
Your starting point
You’ll also want to analyze your target audience, your goals and the strategies you currently employ to reach those goals.
Be weary, you must be objective during the audit. Letting emotions get in the way of making a critical analysis of your brand’s performance will be detrimental in the long run.
To make an educated decision, you must get very intimate with the following:
- Your company name and tagline
- Your logo, email signature and color palette
- The style that you identify with your brand (including images)
- Your voice and messaging
Hopefully, you are already well-aware of each of these elements, but if not, it’s time to get familiar. It’s critical to identify how accurate and effective they are, as well as what pieces can be improved upon without hurting your brand and alienating your fanbase.
Take it inside
Now that you’ve met with your leadership team and identified some potential pitfalls and strengths, you’ll have to get more feedback.
Compose some anonymous surveys, and distribute them to your staff and agents. Your team is a great place to get an honest opinion of your brand, and specifically how the individuals representing your company identify with it.
Here are some sample questions:
- What are the core values of this company’s brand?
- How would you describe the brand?
- Name the feelings the logo evokes in you.
- What is most memorable about the brand?
- How does the company deliver on its brand promise?
- How would you describe the company voice?
- What attracted you to work for our brokerage firm?
Move it outside
You know what your team thinks, and now it’s time to ask your prospective clients and existing customers for their opinion. After all, they are your most important judges.
Here are some sample questions:
- Can you describe what you think our company’s biggest strength is?
- What words would you use to describe our company?
- What other companies would you consider working with?
- What are other brokerage firms that you feel are similar to us?
- What do you feel makes our brokerage firm stand out?
- Do you recognize our logo when you see it?
- What does our company logo mean to you?
Analyze the competition. Where do you fall in the market against these competitors? It’s important to investigate their strengths and weaknesses as well as figure out what opportunity you have in comparison to them.
Start by listing companies that market to a similar audience as your brokerage firm. Are you both competing for a certain demographic in the same area? List them.
Next, immerse yourself in their brand, including logo, headlines, social media, ads, copy, website presence, etc. Try to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes to get a feel for the overall experience. Then, determine what the takeaways are for prospective clients.
Chances are, the competition is steep both from local brokerage firms and national brokerage firms.
After analyzing key brands, you should uncover opportunities for differentiating your own, and that will give you direction for enhancing your brand.
What’s behind the curtain?
You are likely already sitting on a goldmine of information. Start with web analytics and social data. It’s old news that 90 percent of home searches begin online, so I don’t have to restate the importance of a strong digital presence for any real estate brokerage firm.
You’ll want to uncover the following:
- How are people getting to your website?
- What source provides the longest time on site?
- What source is responsible for the largest number of leads?
There is a lot of information contained in your analytics, providing intel on what is effective, what needs work and core areas in which you can improve your digital presence.
Social data can also help reveal things about your audience that might be difficult to uncover any other way. Your perceived audience may differ greatly from your actual audience.
Social insights from Facebook can tell the average age, interests, online behaviors and just about anything else you need to know about this group.
You can also learn who is linking to your website and see what people are saying about your brokerage firm by using opinion analyzer tools or simply by spending some time online. This information allows you to truly learn what people think about your brand.
You may think you are the modern high-tech option in your community, but you might discover your audience sees your brand as dated and offering very traditional services rather than cutting-edge and modern tools.
Numbers don’t lie
Looking at sales data will reveal patterns and show you key areas that can be improved upon or those that have untapped potential. How do your transactions and sales dollars compare to previous years?
Looking at your sales figures and uncovering patterns will help shed light on your target audience and the effectiveness of your current brand and materials.
How do your numbers compare to the overall industry? Have you lost some market share to new competitors? Answering these questions will guide you down the right path.
Get it going
Now that you have thoroughly analyzed all aspects of your marketing, your brand and your current position in the market, you should have a list of items that you need to tackle.
From your findings, you should be able to create a detailed plan and put it into action. Of course, once you put your new plans and strategies into motion you’ll have to monitor the results.
Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of your aging brand — after all, it is a moving target. Your audience and competitors will continue to change, and you must continue to innovate your brand or risk becoming irrelevant and letting the competition take the lead.