If you were asked to describe your "brand"what would you say? Would you talk about the look of your offices? Your company"s logo? Your staff's willingness to go the extra mile and help the public buy, let and sell property?
Any one of these would certainly give clues to your brand. But a brand is so much more. It is a powerful tool that can help property agents win instructions and beat the competition.
Your company's brand is divided into four categories: appearance, uniqueness, ethics and perception. Master each of these and your organisation will have a solid foundation on which to build a long-term, successful business.
To examine these categories, ask yourself what element is common to the first three of these? The answer is communication. They all rely on being communicated to your audience. However, they are under your control and you can decide what message is sent out. Your aim should be to create an image that describes the values of your company.
Once you have communicated your message, the fourth element "perception" comes into play as the public decides how to interpret the values you have communicated.
It is a well-known fact that it only takes seconds to be judges on appearance. This is true for both individuals and organisations. Wearing a company uniform, having a technology-filled office, possessing a compelling website or memorable logo all prompt an emotional response and opinion of your company.
It is critical that you separate yourself from others in the market place. If not, your brand may be ignored in favour of the competition. Obviously, these differences will vary from organisation to organisation, however, you must be able to articulate them, and they must have relevance to your audience. For example, while you might be the only agent in the area boasting 1,000sq ft of airy office premises, is this really important to a public whose only likely goal when dealing with you is to either acquire or dispose of property? More relevant would be your reputation for being cutting edge and owning the latest and most sophisticated property matching software in the country. That would be a differentiator from which the public might benefit.
As a property agent you interact with the public on a daily basis; buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, surveyors, solicitors, financial advisors, the list is endless. How your company thinks and acts with them also plays a role in defining your brand. This is called "corporate social responsibility" and includes issues relating to legal, moral and ethical matters.
Adherence to the law plays an important part in defining your brand. Are you a company that plays "fast and loose" with property legislation, ignoring the requirements placed on you? Or are you known for keeping to the letter of the law and dealing with the public in an even-handed and fair manner?
Being ethical describes a company's way of doing things, not just to make profit, but doing what is right. This could be a set of rules or best practices that are to be followed by staff. It might include how you treat the public or deal with disagreements. Are you the kind of organisation that considers profit is achieved at all cost, or that profit comes from acting in a just way? The answer will play a role in defining your brand.
While ethics involve a company’s social responsibilities and actions, morals involve your own personal characteristics. While we all know that “people buy people”, “people define brand” is also true. How do you act as an individual, regardless of our company’s own rules? For example, what moral code do you follow when it comes to being truthful, stealing, dealing with people of different backgrounds? The answers define our morals and can’t help but play a critical role in shaping your organisation’s brand.
While appearance, uniqueness and ethics are under our control, perception isn’t. How you are considered by the public, their thoughts and feelings, not only relies on their experience of you, but what they have heard from others, for example, what they have read in the media, on websites, what they have seen via social media.
The best you can do is ensure we have fulfilled the first three elements to the best of your abilities. This will take the efforts and willingness of all members of staff. It is also imperative to monitor and review the brand regularly. Should a problem occur and the brand is at risk of being tarnished, systems should be in place to remedy the situation quickly before things become beyond repair.
Finally, a successful brand relies on the cooperation of all its staff members. It demands their understanding of what the brand stands for and their full participation in achieving those goals. A brand is only as strong as its weakest link, and that is us – the staff who are tasked with promoting the brand every minute of every working day.