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Here’s an experiment. I’m going to list four big consumer brands. When I do, I want you to say who you picture when I say each one. Ready? Amazon, Progressive Insurance, Allstate, Geico.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that those names made you think of Jeff Bezos, Flo, Dennis Haysbert and the Geico gecko.
Here’s what’s interesting about that list: The first one is the company CEO. The second is a fictional character. The third is a celebrity spokesperson. And the fourth is an animated mascot with an ambiguous English/Australian/New Zealand accent.
In that sense, they’re all different. But they also have one thing in common: No matter who or what they are, they’re the faces of their brands.
You probably think of other things around these companies’ services. Amazon is super convenient. Allstate puts you “in good hands.” Progressive’s ads have that memorable blue-and-white look to them. And with Geico, “15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” But it all starts with those characters.
Now, let’s try a second experiment: If I asked your customers who they picture when they hear your company name, what would they say? If you’re a solopreneur, they’d probably say you. But what if you’re a team leader or brokerage CEO? Are you the face of your brand?
One of the first things I realized when I started as a solo agent in 2009 was that real estate is the No. 1 facial recognition-based industry. When you ask people, “Who sold your home?” they almost always answer with their agent’s name — not the brokerage they work for.
It makes sense. Your home is one of the most personal things you own. It’s a huge investment, and you won’t trust it to just anybody. In fact, most people will choose a friend or family member with little experience to sell their home versus a complete stranger with more knowledge and a track record of success.
Why? Because they know their face.
As someone who has been all-in on being the face and voice of his brand for over a decade, I get a lot of questions about how and when to do it. These are the top there, along with my answers.
1. ‘Does the face of my brand have to be me?’
The simple answer to this question is no, but if it isn’t you, then who is it? Big, national brands can create characters or hire celebrity endorsers to do their heavy-lifting. But for most real estate teams and brokerages, that’s not an option.
Real estate is one of the most personal industries in America. So if you’re choosing not to be the face of your brand, or to not even have a face for your brand, then you might be making a huge strategic mistake.
2. ‘If I’m the face of my brand, then won’t people expect to get me as their Realtor?’
This is a great question. Honestly, it’s something I thought a lot about before deciding to put myself out there. The bottom line is this: Do some people still think that I’m going to personally help them buy or sell their home? Yes. However, most get it, just like they don’t expect Jeff Bezos to personally deliver their new patio lights or bath towels.
If people know and trust you as the face of your brand, then they’ll trust your people and your systems until you prove otherwise. If this is the issue that’s keeping you from becoming the face of your brand, then you probably have other reasons for not wanting to do it.
3. ‘I do use my image in all my ads, so why isn’t it working better?’
This is probably the biggest misconception I hear about branding and marketing. It’s not enough to put your image on a billboard, read your own radio spot or appear in your own TV ad for a few months. You have to do it frequently and consistently, and you must commit to making that investment of time and money.
You also need to be seen as the authority on real estate in your market. You need to appear on your local news shows to talk about trends. You need to write articles, blogs and social media posts like this one.
You need to be seen as someone who has their finger on the pulse and can see around corners. In real estate, that’s what gives your face meaning — and builds real trust and brand equity.
Lastly, there’s a myth that you have to have a certain personality to be the face of your brand. I know people in every corner of real estate who are recognized names and faces in their markets. They didn’t succeed by duplicating other “personalities”; they did it by being themselves. In fact, many of them are secret introverts.
In the end, it all comes down to confidence. Especially in real estate, today’s consumer thinks, “If you’re not confident enough to put your name and face on your company or product, then why should I be confident in working with you?”
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Kris Lindahl is the founder of Kris Lindahl Real Estate and MarketingTeam.com, the No. 1 team-owned independent real estate brokerage in Minnesota and Wisconsin and No. 12 nationwide.