Crafting a consistent, compelling, and responsible brand is one of the best gifts you can give to your business, especially when you’re first starting out. Good branding requires much more than just a name, a logo, and a few good ads. Your brand mission, style, and voice should inform every aspect of your real estate marketing plan, from website design and copy to lease space design to advertising strategy to print media and much more.
So how do you create a brand that informs your whole business, drives customer loyalty and recognition, and still has the flexibility to grow and adapt as your business grows and adapts? At Threshold, we’re pros at building brands people want to live in (and we’ve got these success stories to prove it). Today we’re giving you a little peek into our process and recommending five main phases to build a brand that lives, breathes, and grows. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Phase 1: Research & Discovery
Trust us, before you start talking names, logos, colors, or any kind of strategy, it’s essential to understand the landscape you’re working with. That is, you need to learn all you can not only about who your competitors are, but also who your audience is (target and actual, if relevant), as well as the local culture in which your brand will be situated (even if “local” might be regional or national in your case).
Take some time to analyze your competitors, gathering data about their target audience, marketing strategy, color palette, persona & voice, everything you can get your hands on. This will become important in the next phase where you begin to carve out your own brand’s space amid the real estate landscape.
Equally important is understanding your target audience (and current audience, if relevant). Your branding should look a lot different if you’re marketing toward college students vs. adults in their 40s, for example, or to folks with low incomes vs. people with more disposable income. Take time to understand the demographics and attitudes of the audience you’re attempting to reach. It may be useful to separate your audience into a number of different buyer personas that will function as shorthand for some of the segments of your broader audience.
Bear in mind that you can’t market to everyone, nor can you be the best at everything compared to your competition. Understanding the consumers and brands in your marketing landscape is crucial to carving out a niche where you can thrive, which brings us to our next phase.
Phase 2: Differentiation & Planning
Once you know what the world around you will look like, you can start nailing down what makes your brand unique, and what special value it may offer to your intended audience. This phase helps ensure you don’t get lost in a sea of other brands.
Consider what you can do to differentiate your brand from the others around you. Is there a need not yet being met among your target audience? How can you diverge from the design and personality of other brands to offer something new? Are there marketing strategies your competitors aren’t making much use of? Most importantly, what mission will your brand have and how will that mission offer value to your audience?
Once you know what unique niche your brand will seek to inhabit, you can start to develop the design, personality, and voice that will help you show your audience what your brand is all about and why they should care.
Phase 3: Look & Feel
This phase is what people often think about most when they think about branding. This is the phase where design and content assets are created, and where creatives and strategists get to put their heads together to talk brand names, logo, typography, imagery, taglines, color palette, and a bunch of other things that help breathe life into your well-informed ideas.
Choosing your brand name and the logo that will become the shorthand for your brand are often the first steps in this phase, and for good reason. Amongst all your assets, your name and logo will be used most frequently, appearing on just about everything your brand does, and providing the primary touchstone for your audience to begin developing brand awareness and loyalty. Don’t skimp on this step.
Developing a brand style guide or creative expression will help you further elaborate on your brand’s voice and personality. Work toward establishing a tagline, which will communicate your brand’s mission, voice, and personality. For example, our tagline, “Results-based Real Estate Marketing,” communicates that our brand values accountability and efficacy while being focused on the real estate marketing niche, and expresses this information with a professional, confident, and plainspoken voice, communicating Threshold’s savvy and approachable personality.
Color palettes, typography, and imagery can likewise communicate a lot about your brand’s mission and persona. For example, blues and greens might evoke a relaxing, comforting, or natural vibe, while reds and yellows might evoke a sense of vibrancy, energy, or cheerfulness. A uniform, blocky font might communicate structure and strength while a flowing script typeface might suggest creativity and inspiration.
Phase 4: Integration
Once you’ve established a style guide, it’s time to implement your brand across all channels. Everything from establishing a website and social media presence to printing business cards to designing ad campaigns should be informed by your style guide and employ a consistent look & feel. Consistent implementation is crucial for promoting brand awareness and generating high-quality leads.
Your branding should inform not only your content but also your strategy. For example, if your brand seeks to be community-oriented, inviting, and affordable, you might plan to promote a lot of lease specials and open houses, and might incorporate more traditional advertising or geotargeting than another brand would. If your brand seeks to be irreverent, savvy, and casual, you might focus a little more on social media marketing and cater more to new trends in the marketing sphere.
Phase 5: Learning & Growth
While your branding should be consistent throughout everything you do, it should also be adaptable to changes to the marketing landscape and give your brand room to grow. In this phase, you’ll gather analytics to assess whether you’re reaching your intended audience, getting quality leads and conversions, garnering clicks and site traffic, and generally reaching all your marketing goals.
In the case where you’re growing reliably and you’re ready to branch out into another niche, consider how you can translate your current messaging and design to appeal to a new audience or platform, without diluting what makes your brand unique and recognizable.
Branding is an ongoing process, and there’s a lot that goes into it! But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. We’re happy to help you navigate the branding process and craft a brand that you can live and grow in! Chat with a Threshold team member today to find out how.