For a moment, take all of the conventional wisdom of building your own real estate brand, and toss it out the window. Whether you’re a new real estate agent or have years in the business, you need to stop building your real estate brand right now.
Instead, you need to focus on partnering with your real estate broker or the franchisor on a much deeper level, and learn how to effectively align and leverage their brand to help you close more deals, get more listings and generate more leads.
I know that, right now, there are probably real estate agents with steam coming out of their ears, ready to close this window. The advice I am giving goes completely against the advice on the internet. A quick Google search about how to get real estate clients and build your business will inevitably lead you to listicles that recommend you build a real estate brand.
Hear me out because I’m going to share with you why that conventional wisdom is dead wrong and why building your own real estate brand is a bad decision. You don’t need to build your own real estate brand to be successful. Here are four reasons.
Real estate brands are expensive
A successful and impactful brand is expensive — both in money and time — to build. According to some of the brand cost projections by Techcrunch, it’s going to cost you, at a minimum, tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s because building a brand is more than just creating a logo and a simple color scheme. Building a true brand is about creating a service-market fit, a clear marketing message and finding the right target market and building buyer personas.
And it’s not just money that makes brand building expensive. Let’s assume you take a DIY approach to your brand building. It’s still going to cost you in time. You can’t simply build a brand overnight.
Plus, take a look at your competition. Often, you’re competing against national franchise brands that spend a significant amount of money on branding. Heck, Realogy just went through a rebrand for both of their companies, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker.
Being part of a national franchise brand will provide greater name recognition, according to Forbes. Franchise brands have the upper hand when it comes to attracting customers.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to be part of a national brand, instead of trying to build your own real estate brand, lean into the one you’re already a part of. They have done the hard work and spent the money to build a brand. Use it. It’s just silly not to.
Follow the trend in law
I’m seeing a trend in the law to move away from the co-branding that real estate agents tend to do. I’m talking about the kind of marketing where agents put their broker’s information and logo in the tiniest format possible so they can emphasize their own real estate brand.
Guess what? Turns out people are getting sick and tired of these practices. There has been a crackdown to prevent real estate agents appearing as if they are a broker or the owner of a real estate company.
For example, in 2017 my Lansing, Michigan, real estate market began to crack down on the use of terms like “realty” in domain names. There were real estate teams out there branding themselves as “Smith Realty” or something similar.
Then in 2018, new advertising rules were pushed out by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in Michigan. Real estate agents must now ensure that their broker’s name is the same font and type size as the agent’s individual or team name.
I believe this trend toward greater transparency and giving greater emphasis is only going to continue. So, let’s get ahead of the trend and do less agent branding and more broker branding.
It’s always been the law to advertise as the broker. The only issue has always been the application of law. You can call this unfair, but the laws and reasons exist for a reason — which brings me to my third point.
Consider the consumer
Why does a seller’s disclosure document exist? What is the reason for the Dodd–Frank Act? What about the Federal Trade Commission?
I’ll tell you: These are all efforts to protect consumers and to establish a certain amount of rights for them. The reason the law is going to continue to move toward transparency is because consumers are going to continue to get more rights and protection.
For the sake of the consumer, you need to stop building your own real estate brand. Buying or selling a home is a large financial decision which demands as much transparency as possible. Deceptive practices will quickly find you in hot water. Marketing with your own logo and the logo of a broker can really send the consumer a confusing and mixed message.
Brand building doesn’t equal clients
Building a real estate brand doesn’t have a verifiable direct causation to getting more clients and building your income. At least not compared to what the industry refers to as “Dollar Productive Activities” or DPAs. A DPA, according to real estate coach Josh Pyatt, includes activities like calling leads, holding open houses, showing houses and conducting appointments.
The reality is that 99 percent of real estate agents will be better served by spending their time calling existing leads, building and managing their CRM, and being consistent about their marketing to their leads and sphere of influence. These are going to tie to income much faster than brand building ever could.
Most agents need to focus on mastering the fundamentals of being a real estate agent. Maybe then they can consider building a real estate brand.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you it’s not worth building your own real estate brand. The costs in time and money are too high, the law will continue to frown upon that kind of marketing, it can confuse consumers, and there is a hard-to-prove relationship between brand and income. The reality is that most agents need to focus on the fundamentals.
While we all need to step away from building our real estate brands, we still need to ensure we are capturing the leads for ourselves. So yes, you should have your own website domain, for example, where you can send traffic and capture the leads. You don’t want to spend all of that money for your broker and the other agents to benefit.
I believe there is a way for us to capture our leads and convert leads without having to build our own real estate brand. Instead, I encourage you to lean on your broker’s brand and align yourself with their brand. If you have an issue with that, you may be part of the wrong broker and should find a new real estate broker.
Alex Craig is the team leader and marketer of Century 21 Looking Glass: Dolinski Group in Lansing, Michigan. Connect with him on Facebook.