Corporate Branding? Perfect for those that can’t Think for Themselves.

Corporate Branding? Perfect for those that can’t Think for Themselves.

Corporate Branding?  Perfect for those that can’t Think For Themselves.

Estate Agency Today, saw respected property journalist, Graham Norwood, conjecture on agency branding.

“But, as we see in strikingly different ways from Countrywide and PurpleBricks, branding can be important.  Clarity of purpose influences how the public see companies and how investors feel.  And, for the moment at least, it seems that online has a branding advantage.”

The Branding Journal, he says, defines brand as:

“a brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one sellers good or service as distinct from those of others.”

Corporate branding is the least important identifier of a good estate agency. There is not a single estate agency in the U.K that even comes close to having an identifiable brand.  One that creates a loyal following.

Rolex, BMW, McDonald’s, Apple.

Those are recognisable brands.  They have a story, with which people can identify.  They have a loyal following.  Because of the brand.

Ask the average homeowner in the U.K to name three estate agency brands.  Knight Frank, Savills, erm, err……..?

Better yet, ask them what those brands mean to them.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for the answer.

Even the deep-pockets of online agencies such as PurpleBricks struggle.  To establish a meaningful ‘brand.’

The estimate is that consumers are exposed to over 10,000 brands every single day.

Vendors still makes choices without all the available information.  They choose without deciding, as Seth Godin puts it.

The blame lies, of course, at the door of every U.K estate agency.

Trivial ads that feature a bland image. And, the ubiquitous strapline “Call now for a FREE valuation.”

Facebook pages comprising the bottle of bubbly, or box of chocolates.  A surprising ‘gift’ from a very happy vendor.  Or worse still, the holiday snaps, or the kids football pics.

Even estate agency blogs, uncommon as they are,  ‘ghost-written’ by some well-meaning scribe.  Or, feature mountains of data.  Meant to convince potential vendors, this is the authoritative voice of local agencies.

Re-targeting ads, banner ads on Facebook and Twitter.  Childish attempts at ‘humour’ on T.V and local radio.

The message they’re trying to convey?

Who Knows?

If it’s trying to establish the agency as a corporate brand, it’s failed.

Vendors need an emotional reason to decide.  Data and manipulative advertising doesn’t tick that box.

Consumers hate advertising.  They go out of their way to block the ads that annoy and interrupt their life. They are very, very good at ignoring your agency and its message.

What are vendors looking for, then?

In fact, they are only looking for an agency with something interesting to say.  On a regular basis.

One-hit wonder blogs, never repeated, won’t gain a vendors attention.

Data-driven, local stats make little lasting impression.

More often than not, they are but curation of widely available news feeds.  Lacking authenticity.  Lacking emotion. Lacking, most of all, attention.

Something interesting to say?  On a regular basis?

How hard can that be?

The estate agency sector abounds with stories that have a ‘human’ connection.  A local connection.  It abounds with estate agents that have fascinating character.  But are too lazy, too reluctant, or too mis-informed to share those traits.

The agents that have vulnerability. They are the ones that have something interesting to say.  Not those that shout from the rooftops of their ‘success’.

“Call now for your FREE valuation” qualifies as the worst ‘chat-up line’.  Ever.

I would go out of my way to avoid any agency so lacking in creativity.  Regardless of their competence.

I’ve shared, before, a great article by Nicolas Cole, one of my favourite writers.  I like the way he thinks.

Estate agencies don’t need a corporate brand.  Vendors no longer care.

What they care about is the person in front of them.  The values, beliefs and convictions that they share.  The confidence they have in the agent’s character and competence.

Branding.  “Identifies one sellers good or service as distinct from those of others”.

Estate agency, regarded by many vendors as a commodity, has to change.  Any agency service that is good, others will try to replicate.

It’s not difficult.  End result?  More of the same.

The challenge that faces the industry is how to change that perception.

“Our brains filter out consistency in favour of focusing on differences.”   –  Chip & Dan Heath, authors of Made To Stick.

Personal branding remains the best bet.  Every single estate agent is different.  Like them, or not.

And the more those ‘well-heeled’ online and corporate agencies splash the cash?  On corporate branding, the more they show themselves to be out of touch and even a little bit clueless.

This affords a huge, huge opportunity for any estate agency. To thrive in the murky world of corporate branding.

All it takes is….. a good story.