Splash: the key to better real estate branding

This website makes a bold claim. They set daunting expectations. Makes you wonder why they would bother trying.

Seems to me that today, brands need not do that to make a big splash.


I come from a different school. And hold a different set of beliefs. I’m not right. I’m not wrong.

But this is what I believe:

Smart brands don’t force their value proposition on us or create expectations that are impossible to reach. Or believe. They don’t rob us of the joy that comes from arriving at conclusions on our own – and the opportunity to spread the word of discovery ourselves.

Smart brands are becoming more sensitive to the marketplace. They recognize that today, people won’t take the brand’s word for anything. A Yelp review left by a social media stranger holds more currency than the boastful phlegm of silly tag line.

People shop with their hearts not their heads. Brands with a strong emotional pull often beat the brands that claim to be the biggest, best and most.

Human beings seek brands that get this.

MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign played to this style of emotional branding. In one ad that featured a little boy and a puppy, the copy read: “Donation to animal shelter: $50. Collar, bowl, and food: $12. Shots at the vet: $85. Your first dog: Priceless.”

MasterCard succeeded where real estate continually fails – they aren’t selling a product, they are selling an emotion. An experience. A dream.

Visa took a similar approach in this new commercial. Like MasterCard, they wrap us up inside a warm burrito filled with emotional ingredients that warm our hearts. We forget we’re being sold anything. We never feel like ideas are forced into our skulls. Or feelings forcefully plunged into our hearts.

Instead, we’re invited to partake in something special.

This is known as emotional branding. We got our first taste of it years ago when a little kid asked Mr. Green if he needed a little help. I still get goose bumps.

If that kid grew up and became a real estate broker, he wouldn’t need to make outlandish claims on his website.

Contrast that, for example, with the claim made by William Raveis Real Estate –  that their Website is “The best Website in real estate.” Even if it were true – and it is manifestly not in my opinion – the claim is forced. Immediately unbelievable. It’s the opinion. Not mine.

And if my experience isn’t the best on it, it becomes magnificently worse than it would of been.



For the past month I have been going out of my way on Friday nights to pick up dessert for the family to share while we enjoy movies in our home theatre. I discovered this little café named Splash. They don’t have a slogan or a tagline. They don’t need one.

At Splash, everyone smiles.

I noticed this the first time I ventured in. Then the second. Then the third. My last trip there, they were cleaning up and getting ready to close. I noticed that as I opened the front door. The counter girl looked up and gave me the warmest smile and proceeded to retrieve the pastries from the back that had already been put away.

Service people here where I live don’t typically do that.

Splash doesn’t serve the best food in world. They don’t offer the best prices in the world. If I told you they did my guess is you’d be skeptical. Look for reviews online. After all, we all have our own interpretation of great, best, most.

But what I can tell you is when you enter this place, no matter how busy they are, they are never too harried to welcome you in. And they take care of you in a manner that makes you feel special. They do it sincerely. Honestly. And with a smile.

Which yields what you see in the image below. Something I know every agent, broker, vendor in real estate wants.

Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach Image courtesy of Nick Anis.