In a recent interview, Agent Image Co-founder and Managing Partner Jon Krabbe shared his insights on how agents today can build their digital presence. Just past their twentieth year, Krabbe and the Agent Image team know of which they speak.
What’s the difference between owning and renting your brand?
With websites, the typical model is a proprietary platform-based solution. You pay a seemingly low monthly fee, and the website, often created from a template, belongs to your provider. It sounds like a cheaper solution, but, in the long run, it’s not.
For example, over the course of 10 years, you’re growing your marketing presence all the while spending thousands of dollars. You start picking up traction on Google and showing up in the top pages. Now you’re tethered to that original website platform. If you want to leave, make customizations they don’t allow, or that company goes out of business, you’re forced to start from scratch and risk losing all of that SEO value. It’s the same idea as leasing an apartment and sinking tens of thousands of dollars into improving it, would you ever do that? No. That’s a terrible investment. Your website is no different, it’s your real estate on the web. If Google has you indexing high, you better own that content. Otherwise, you’re leasing your own brand value. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you own your brand.
At what point should an agent start thinking about their brand?
I would say the day you pass your licensing exam, if not before! You are a blank slate. You don’t have a reputation and you have the chance to build that. So, pay attention to your brand from the get-go. Don’t waste years on a sub-par representation of your business and differentiate yourself from the start. You can have all the personality you want, but if your website and brand look like everyone else’s template, you’ve lost the battle.
Before you meet with a client, that person has already researched you. They’ve seen your website, checked your social media and already formed an image of who you are. If you use one of the many templated products out there, they won’t be able to pick you out from the crowd. With the right branding, you can stand out and look like you’ve been doing this for years. It’s all about how your brand is perceived and you have the ability to control every aspect of it if you think ahead.
Where does an agent’s brand live?
Your brand lives wherever you put your marketing dollars and everywhere your clients see you. Wherever that is, your brand needs to be consistent as well as unique. Mailers, bus bench ads, listing presentations, social media, open house signs… anywhere it’s visible, it has to be cohesive and recognizable. Any of those areas where that isn’t the case will kill brand awareness.
What about teams? How does an agent balance a personal brand with a team brand?
Say you create a partnership with another agent where you both have strong brands. Both of you will be faced with the challenge of how to maintain your awareness and come up with a consistent look that’s a blend of the two. I recommend coming up with a logo that could ideally be identifiable as both. You can keep consistency by using the color of one brand and style of another. You can see a great example of this with Kofi Nartey’s personal website and then his brand collaboration with Rob Wilner.
If you’re an agent joining an established team or brokerage the question becomes how to grow your personal brand while staying consistent with the team. There will have to be a broker brand and a team brand. You can keep the consistency of the team on your website by co-branding with your personal brand and with the team brand. No matter how you do it, make sure you keep that personal brand. At the end of the day, you have to own your branded website. If there comes a day you decide to go out on your own, that personal site will be key.
Jon Krabbe is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Agent Image, the #1 real estate website design company in the world. He began his career as an agent where he saw the need for uniquely branded websites and marketing in a template-saturated industry. With over 20 years of industry experience, Jon has overseen the creation of over 20,000 websites and has worked with top-producing agents to develop award-winning designs. He has found a way to combine his passion for real estate, branding and design into a service that is committed to helping real estate professionals from around the world grow their business and succeed.
Since 1999, Agent Image has specialized in branded website solutions and online marketing for real estate professionals. Known for creating award-winning real estate websites for REALTORS®, agents, and brokers, Agent Image has launched over 20,000 websites for top producers throughout the country.