Tractors, trailers and duck soup branding

He’s a farmer, cyclist, writer, trainer, father.

Meet Gary Chambers.

He’s also a real estate agent.

What branding isn’t

A few weeks back, while reviewing some collateral for a client in Los Angeles, I came upon a full-page ad for a Realtor named Freedman. White teeth. Well groomed. A phone held to his ear. The headline read: Let Freedman Ring.

Bill Bernbach stirred painfully in his grave.

I’m not certain what agents did to brand themselves in a pre-Hobbs Herder world, but the past 10 years have burned whatever value personal branding had in real estate to ashes.

But from the ashes, a phoenix rises.

The Gary Chambers brand

Gary lives on his 2,400-acre family farm in rural Drumheller, Alberta. Population 8,000.

Some days Gary dresses in overalls. From atop his yellow and green tractor he farms grain, wheat and barley with his father on his 100-year-old farm. Other days, he dresses in a suit and tie and lists and sells property as a broker/owner.

If Gary were like everyone else, his marketing would feature him posing beside his tractor. He’d have his phone pressed against his ear and a tagline that reads, I’ll plow through any negotiation to get you a great deal. 

Gary is not like everyone else.

For him, branding isn’t about talking the talk. It’s not about reaching inside a grab bag of clichés and going with whatever cheeseball nonsense comes out. Branding is something real and it must live well beyond the collateral.

Branding is riding the ride, which Gary does as flawlessly as I have ever seen in real estate.

Scan Gary’s Tractor View blog. Designed in a color palette familiar to farmers (think John Deere), Tractor View is a farmer’s almanac of content. Topics include farming, technology, insights on commodities trading, advice on social media marketing (a burgeoning platform for farmers), and real estate.

Don’t just stop there.

Gary’s nailed all the digital touchpoints: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. The consistency across these channels is dazzling.

Meet Gary in the flesh and it all comes together.

I met Gary for the first time last week at AT&T Park in San Francisco the night before Real Estate Connect began. He was sitting with about 20 people, each wearing custom John Deere tractor caps Gary brought with him.

“Branding isn’t about doing weird stuff to get attention,” Gary explained. “Neither is it trying to be all things to all people. I’m a farmer. I list and sell homes to farmers. That’s my brand. It’s as honest as I can get.”

Seamless Consistency 

Brands aren’t manufactured. While the individual components (logo, mark, tagline, packaging, promises) are, branding occurs when these tie directly to an underlying meaning.

The Apple brand isn’t about the devices or the cool packaging. The brand is the accumulated feelings about Apple because of those things. The brand is powerful because everything we come in contact with from Apple gives us the very same feeling.

Seamless, flawless consistency.

Agents who brand themselves with turned phrases, made-up slogans, props and personality marketing aren’t creating brands. They’re just making fools of themselves.

Gary Chambers understands that.

Tractors, trailers and duck soup branding

I Skyped with Gary on Saturday. He schooled me on the needs of farmers across the world who subscribe to his blog, the fluctuation of commodity prices, the state of local real estate and the fact that farmers are far more adaptive to technology than many of the Realtors he’s met in his career.

He’s the real deal.

Gary’s brand components aren’t duck soup constructs created on the assembly line inside real estate’s branding factory then spread across the masses. Instead, they exist as a full extension of something real.

Gary the farmer, the Realtor, the cyclist, the father, the writer, and the brand are all aligned.

I can’t wait for my John Deere cap.