More thoughts on real estate branding

Brokers and agents are caught in a tug of war, each manning the rope of their own issues. They’ve become blind to all that really matters. Blind to the crowd on the sidelines – the consumers. The tighter each side pulls, the more rigid the rope. No slack. No give. No resolve. Every once in a while, one side gains a slight advantage. And so it goes.

Someday the rope will tear. Both sides will fall back and tumble. From the dust, a new real estate industry will emerge.

If you employ agents of varying degrees of expertise that charge the same commission, that market using individual brands, that voice a message different from that of your company while housed in locations that all look different, then you are part of a matrix not long for this earth.

While the real estate train is still largely a graffiti laden wreck of vanity, lead capture traps, photo-less properties and superfluous links to useless content, the number lighting up the path toward a new way is growing.

Real Living’s approach to branding a full service real estate company is one example (disclosure: Real Living is a 1000WATT client). The brand they have created flows from the top down like lava to all their network partners. They have an unpolluted identity. Locations that are as consistent as Starbucks’ and an understanding of how to deliver a quality experience at every consumer touch point. Their brand is their most valued asset and respect for it is militantly enforced. When they enter a new market, the consumer notices. They see and feel something distinctive.

Redfin, whatever you may think of their business model, effectively targets specific demographics and earns their loyalty with a clearly differentiated value proposition and an experience tailored to their sensibilities. The customer attaches to the brand because it stands for – it means — something. The number heading down the new path is growing.

Promises broken, promises kept

For all the money large real estate companies spend to promote themselves, consumers are hard pressed to find local service people who match that national message. These disconnects cannot be sustained much longer.

A recent Century 21 TV commercial tells us what humble servants their agents are. They race to airports to meet foreign clients. They learn salutations in other languages practiced precisely for that event. The purpose of that commercial is to make us believe that this agent can be found in every C21 cubicle in America. Is this promise kept more often than it is broken?


Today, real estate consumers don’t want to be “sold” anything. They want truth. Consistency. Uniformity. Transparency. Most companies aren’t delivering this.

I know agents are independent. I know franchises have a hard time controlling what their individual franchisees do. Enough already. McDonald’s has thousands of franchisees who tow the brand line down to the very last salt packet in your drive through bag.

I’m not suggesting there is no room for independent brokers and agents in the future. The basic principals of branding apply across board.

There’s room for all who focus on the crowd.

> Davison, Boero