Nov 3, 2014

Effective branding for estate agencies

Investment company Berkshire Hathaway must be smarting at the news that British estate agents are not, in fact, clamouring to purchase a licence to use the company name as part of their branding strategy.

It’s hardly surprising.  Berkshire Hathaway may well own a number of companies including half of Heinz, and be a household name in the US.  In the UK though, it’s a very different story and estate agents are naturally wary of the connotations of being associated with such a corporation.

When creating a brand, agencies must consider the target audience first and foremost.  It’s not all about trying to portray what your agency would like to be, but rather addressing what makes the target audience comfortable enough to recognise, use and recommend the brand time and again.

Although we are continuing to see the launch of an increasing number of purely online estate agencies, the general consensus among high street independent agencies and branches seems to be that property buyers and sellers prefer to harness local knowledge and expertise.  It would therefore be potentially detrimental to an agency’s brand identity, to move swiftly from “small and friendly” to “multinational”.

Effective branding for estate agents relies heavily on three very distinct attributes:

  1. Brand positioning
  2. Brand values
  3. Distinct and relevant imagery

Many agencies fall into the trap of immediately focusing on the physical aspects of their brand, without first considering the message they want to convey and to whom they want to convey it.  Visibility, differentiation and consistency are of course essential when it comes to Sales and Lettings boards, website, advertising and marketing literature.  However, design aspects should only be considered in relation to pricing, market positioning and key values – an all-important point which, it appears, was overlooked by Berkshire Hathaway in its attempt to break into the UK property market.

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