What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually, when it comes to most businesses. You either go for a name that encapsulates you and your services all in one – for example, Webuyanycar.com, Sky Sports, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc. – or you go for something a bit more quirky, distinctive and enigmatic.
Uber, for example, doesn’t immediately shout out taxi service, but through clever marketing, social media and word of mouth it has become the biggest challenger to the black cab monopoly in London.
Zoopla is another – property-related – one. It doesn’t seem to really mean anything on its own, does it? But now, just as people associate Uber with taxis and Tinder with dating, Zoopla is immediately synonymous with property.
Some brands are so big that you don’t even stop to think much about their names – you just associate them immediately with a given service or product. McDonald’s, Google, Amazon, Nike, Apple, Starbucks, Kellogg’s, etc. – all have become household names; so much so that you don’t even have to give a second thought to who they are or what they sell.
That’s the ultimate goal, I suppose – instant brand recognition, instant association. If you’ve achieved that, you’ve made it.
As humans, we react better to visual images, which means colour plays an absolutely crucial role when it comes to branding. When you think of products with the colour red, what do you think of first? Kit Kat? Coca Cola? Now consider the colour orange. I bet you think first of easyJet, Tango and Sainsbury’s.
Orange – a bright, distinctive, potentially off-putting colour, you might have thought. But some brave firms have taken the plunge and made it their own, made a virtue of its stand-out nature.
And it’s a common theme – products and colours being intrinsically linked. McDonald’s dominates the colour yellow, Cadbury’s has an instant association with the colour purple, Facebook and Ford have a hold over the colour blue, Google and eBay took ownership of the multi-coloured approach, while the BBC and Next went for black and white to stamp their indelible mark on the nation’s consciousness.
Colour is important – not just to make your brand stand out and attract the eye of potential customers – but also to help define your product/service. Some brands mix and match, some stick to one colour, but all major brands have a colour scheme that most people – in a quiz – would be able to correctly identify.
It’s the case in the world of property, too. Purplebricks is the biggest online agent – and a big part of the reason for that is its distinctive purple branding, something it makes a big thing of. Zoopla chose purple as well, but Rightmove – the country’s biggest portal – opted for a subtler, softer approach, which goes to show that loud, bright colours aren’t enough on their own to make you the best.
Foxtons, meanwhile, is well-known for its green, white and yellow colour scheme. Some criticise it for being too in-your-face, but it certainly captures your attention. Savills' red and yellow branding, too, is either an assault on the eyes or a stroke of genius depending on your viewpoint – but again, it draws you in.
You know you’re doing something right when a logo alone is enough to signify a product. The Nike tick, the big McDonald’s M and Apple’s apple are all good examples of this. You know, without even pausing to think, exactly what these are.
Most brand logos keep things very simple. They’re not intricate or over-the-top – in fact, they revel in simplicity. Think of Dove, Disney or Sony. None of these shout at you or demand your attention in an obvious way, but they still manage to ingrain themselves in your brain. If you took the words away from the Pepsi, IKEA and Land Rover logos, for example, most people would still know what was being advertised.
That’s the skill – creating a brand that is so well known that visual images alone are enough to trigger familiarity and recognition.
It’s similarly the case with slogans. “Just do it”, “Every little helps”, “Because you’re worth it”, “Does exactly what it says on the tin”, “The Best a Man Can Get” – most people, from these slogans alone, would give me the answers Nike, Tesco, L'Oréal, Ronseal and Gillette.
Slogans can help encapsulate a product in a few small words, can help to make it memorable and hard to shake off. If it’s combined with a catchy jingle, it’s guaranteed to get stuck in the heads of the people who see or hear it.
I’d say this is one area where property still comes up short. Rightmove’s Find Your Happy is quite catchy, but I’m struggling to think of too many other stand-out slogans from our industry.
Most agents either don’t have slogans, or it’s not entirely clear what they are. Of the ones that do, the slogans certainly haven’t entered into the public's consciousness.
Here are some examples: “Completely London, Completely Local”, “An estate agent you can love”, “Integrated solutions, local expertise”.
Without resorting to Google, how many people would be able to tell me who these slogans belong to?
Branding isn’t an exact art or science. In some cases, it just works. In others, it doesn’t. But its power shouldn’t be underestimated. People trust brands. People often associate major brands with good reputations.
As reputation and trust is everything when it comes to estate agency, the world of property is one area where good branding – and getting your name out there, in a positive and distinctive way – is more important than most.
On its own, good branding isn’t enough – you need a good product to back it up. But it is likely to play a key part in the success, or otherwise, of your business.
If branding wasn’t so important, big companies wouldn’t spend so much on advertising, brand awareness and brand enhancement. A good brand can take you a long way, whatever the industry.
If you’re looking for a marketing guru to help you on your way, I’m for hire for a decent price! Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today