Real estate has undergone significant changes in the past two decades, but has your company image kept up? If your branding materials were created before the start of the new millennium, now may be the time for an update, says Chris Trick, vice president of marketing and product development for ERA Real Estate.
At ERA, Trick says, brokers and salespeople perceived that their company wasn’t changing with the times.So in July, the national franchise unveiled new branding. “Our logo, which we introduced in 1997, was tired and dated,” he says. “Some of our brokers even said it was created in the 1980s. That’s not good.”
If it’s time for you to rebrand, Trick offers four tips:
1. Work with pros, and expect to pay. Branding consultants and professional design agencies bring experience that can help ensure the success of a rebranding effort. “The ‘my-nephew-is-a–design-student’ approach isn’t usually the best for a brokerage-wide change,” says Trick. The range of costs can be wide, depending on the number of offices and type of signage. A storefront brokerage sign with a logo on glass can run $1,000 for labor and materials, says Trick. For a company that has channel letters embossed on the side of a building, $7,500–$10,000 is a reasonable estimate. “Those are the big-ticket items,” Trick says. “It’s also all the other things, and you have to support your salespeople in making that transition. You’ll hear, ‘What about my brochures?’ or ‘I just started running an ad on a bus bench.’ Take those things into consideration, too.”
2. Get salespeople invested early. “Don’t underestimate the importance of involving your agents early in the story,” says Trick. “If they don’t understand why you’re doing it, it creates problems. You get emotional reactions like, ‘I just don’t like it.’”
3. Take your time. Rebranding is a process that has to be thoughtfully planned over time. ERA took a phased approach, providing ERA brokers with a detailed checklist of what had to happen within the 18-month compliance deadline across the brand, says Trick. Their implementation timeline cushioned the marketing costs for broker and salespeople, allowing for business cards to run out and bus stop ads to expire, for example.
4. Use events to influence consumers and recruits. To create awareness and buzz, ERA suggested that its brokers convert visible items all at once and leverage the change with a big event, like a company open house. “Maybe they have a sign-stomping day in their market where they replace the yard signs for all their listings in one day,” says Trick. “It’s also a chance to say to prospective salespeople, ‘Look at us again. Let me explain what we’re doing and how this brand is moving forward.’ It’s attractive to salespeople to be affiliated with a broker with forward momentum.”
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online, November 2014, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright November 2014. All rights reserved. http://realtormag.realtor.org