Recently, I was speaking to the owner of a chain of estate agents which is thinking of refreshing its company image.
They paid Moneypenny a compliment saying “I can instantly spot one of your adverts, leaflets or letters before I even see the logo – and I know I’m going to like it.”
The agent wanted to know the ‘secret’ of Moneypenny’s noticeable branding. In particular, how a company – such as an estate agency – can create a brand that stands out, even in a crowded marketplace.
There is of course no simple answer to this question.
The principles of creating a strong identity are far more complex than powerful graphic design or an eye-catching logo; it’s about reflecting the culture and purpose of the company. This can be achieved in four key ways:
1. Reflect your business mission
First things first, set a mission statement that defines the purpose of your company. Something that outlines and demonstrates where you see it going, who you are going to market to, and the objectives of the business.
From here, you can dictate what the brand will look and feel like, providing a framework to work within when creating the overall branding.
This should be simple, straightforward and engaging to buyers and sellers. Ask yourself what separates your estate agent from the competition? What market needs does it address? And how does it do this?
For instance, a mission statement might say: It is our goal to be the neighbourhood estate agent of choice. To be valued on its trustworthiness and integrity. To set the standard for customer service in home buying. Whatever it is, clearly define this and have it in your mind at all times.
2. Be clear on your target market
The chances are, when you think of Mercedes Benz, you think of luxury stylish cars for people who indulge in high quality.
When someone mentions Tesco, your mind will conjure up a mid-range supermarket serving the everyman.
These companies have a very clear focus on who buys from them, and they create their branding to appeal to them. This is equally important for estate agents.
Zoe Napier Country & Equestrian, for instance, specialises in equestrian property, equestrian centres and livery yards, and targets buyers and sellers in these areas in the South East region.
By looking at the company’s website, there is no doubt as to which part of the market it serves. Be really clear on exactly who you are selling to.
This will guide the branding to maximise attraction, and avoid trying to be all things to everyone.
3. Understand and leverage the USP
Every single estate agent has something that differentiates it from its competitors. The key is recognising this and using it as your unique selling point.
It could be absolutely anything – a particular sales process, an interesting back-story, even something simple such as a laidback attitude towards selling. This will be unique to your company.
Student housing agent, Bill Free Homes, has used its USP of ‘all bills included’ as a marketing tool and built its brand around it.
For Moneypenny, our USP is the relationship between our clients and our receptionists. Each client is offered one Moneypenny Receptionist who they come to know and trust.
This culture is then reflected in our company branding – reinforcing how we can help the sector, using customer testimonials and images featuring real staff – all of which demonstrate the bespoke service that Moneypenny offers its clients.
4. Maintain consistent messaging
Clear and consistent messaging is an essential part of creating a strong brand. As well as reinforcing your identity, it helps build a sense of trust and this in turn results in increased brand loyalty. For that reason it’s a vital component of any business strategy.
Every page on your website, every brochure, every advert, even the way correspondence is worded to clients, should reflect your brand.
Developing this takes a considerable amount of time and effort though, and it can quickly be undone with a lack of uniformity across all marketing collateral so protect every aspect.
From the colour scheme used to the descriptions of particular dwellings – set out clear guidelines for everyone to adhere to. Your brand – and business – should soon benefit from the time taken to define each of these elements.
*Samantha Jones is Commercial Manager of Corporate and Property at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny.