Starting an indie real estate brokerage is no easy feat. From choosing a building location to creating a website and hiring agents and support staff, there is a lot to consider prior to open your doors for business. No matter how seasoned the agents, how well the location was designed, or how much marketing is out there, there is nothing that will get a brokerage noticed better than good, solid brand building.
Two Locations, Same Branding
Founder and CEO Stacie Staub of West + Main Homes in Denver, Colorado opened her boutique brokerage just over a year ago with eight agents, parlaying that into 45 agents today. She went for it with gusto and opened in two locations, each hosting community events specific to the flavor of the local neighborhoods — monthly artist showcases and art walk participation for the downtown location and free community event space plus pop-up-shops for the west Denver office. What didn’t change was her branding.
Staub had a definite advantage over most new indie brokers. Her business partner is a brand designer who knows the power in creating a brand that resonates with property owners, buyers and agents alike. Plus, Staub is a business and marketing wiz. That’s a win-win for agents at West + Main Homes, where the branding features beautiful imagery and clean, clear lines with pops of color. It’s not at all stuffy or cluttered, standing out from more traditional real estate brands.
Start With The “Who”
Starting with the “who” first, rather than the “why,” Staub determined who their ideal clients and agent hires would be and worked the branding around that. Everything should look good and be “real, not stuffy or closed off,” reflecting the innovative and collaborative energy their agents talk about. Staub comments that the value and identity is “accessible, scalable, and professional” and indicative of a friend next door.
She moved fast with “no overthinking” as the thought was that “done is better than perfect.” She had the name one day and signs in the yard three days later as her agents were on the move. A contractor created a simple brokerage website. Agents attest that the brand at this indie brokerage is one they are proud to represent.
In keeping with their clean and clear lines, taking agent headshots for marketing is a great way to assure that each individual agent’s branding plays off the local brand. Having professional headshots taken by the agency ensures consistency among agent branding.
According to Forbes contributor Scott Goodson: “No branding, no differentiation. No differentiation, no long-term profitability. People don't have relationships with products, they are loyal to brands.” As in all sales, people buy people first. If your brand is reflective of the type of agents you hire, it will also attract the types of buyers and sellers your agents want to work with.
Brand Equals Space
Staub believes that brand equals space. “Open spaces reflect brand, identity beliefs and community inclusion,” she notes. The brokerage comes from a place of generosity and abundance where they try to turn all opportunities into events. This is not only a novel marketing strategy, it is fun for agents and the community alike. As with all her brokerage events, she never asks agents to help. “Agents and clients should have a good time,” she says.
Everything is turned into content at West + Main Homes, from the arrival of their new business cards to the unboxing of their first advertising magazines and addition of a new agent. Six or seven content pieces are published each week on a variety of platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest. Each piece of content is simple and relevant and reused in many ways.
Being a 2018 Inman Innovator award finalist just shows that this rising indie brokerage brand is making its mark in the often staid and unchanging world of real estate. Staub shows the importance of brand building around agents and clients, while taking community involvement to more personal levels.
It’s Never Too Late to Build Your Brand
It’s never too late to create branding that showcases your indie brokerage’s identity, even if you intend to keep your brokerage small. Better branding means increased visibility to help your agents stay productive.
Want more great ideas for growing your business? Check out this video on Building a Brand for Your Indie Brokerage from the West + Main team.