In her recent TEDx Talk, branding expert Stacey Ross Cohen explained that personal branding starts from birth. Find out how your personal brand — starting with your name — can help you make the first impression you want with clients and colleagues.
The things we say, publish and post add up to a personal brand and digital footprint that carries tremendous weight. To achieve success in the highly competitive real estate market, personal branding is no longer a luxury, it’s a requirement.
In my recent TEDx Talk, I talked about the way that names produce a variety of judgements and should be selected with great care and consideration. Personal branding is about standing out and demonstrating your value to others — it’s not about me, me, me!
You might think that choosing a name for your real estate business is a straightforward decision. In reality, however, you will find that there are multiple ways of styling your name to increase your brand’s effectiveness.
For example, if you are a woman, you might want to differentiate the styling of your professional name from the name you use socially, either by hyphenating your maiden and married names or by using your maiden name alone or as a middle name.
You might want to think through the use of a nickname, initials or some other stylistic change to your name. For example, with a single name you could have the following options:
- Jackie Spier
- Jackie Morgan Spier
- Jacqueline Spier
- Jacqueline Morgan Spier
- J.M. Spier
- J. Morgan Spier
Try out all of the different iterations of your name in different fonts to get a sense of the look and impression each conveys. There’s no question that Jackie Spier and J. Morgan Spier have distinctly different attitudes and suggest different personalities. Part of branding is knowing which vibe you want to communicate.
Naming your team
If you are part of a team, you have even more decisions to make. Some successful teams include only the team lead’s name. Others include two or more members of the team. Still others have a name that is associated with some aspect of the market, like “The Hometown Team” or “The Palm Coast Team.”
If you are including the names of team members, how will you style yourselves? First names? Last names? Will you separate with an ampersand, the word “and,” or a plus sign? Maybe a dash or slash or line? The possibilities are (almost) endless — take a look:
- The Stacey & Christy Team
- The Cohen & Edgar Team
- The Stacey and Christy Team
- The Cohen and Edgar Team
- Cohen — Edgar Team
- Cohen | Edgar Team
- CohenEdgar Team
- Team Stacey and Christy
- Team Cohen and Edgar
- Team Cohen | Edgar
Choosing the right name is about more than what looks good on a logo. One of the first things you’ll need to do is lock down the domain URL and social media accounts for your chosen name across as many platforms as possible.
Check your state’s database of company names to ensure that your chosen name is available, should you decide to start a corporate or business entity. You may even want to initiate the process of trademarking your team’s name to ensure exclusivity in your market and beyond.
Creating your personal digital footprint
One of the first things many real estate agents do is make use of the brokerage-provided website and content platforms to jump-start their digital presence. What they overlook is that all of the work and content they then create becomes the property of the brokerage.
Instead, agents should begin early building a personal brand and a variety of platforms so that the content they create — whether blogs, videos or social media — contributes to their own brand name search engine optimization. No matter how successful the team you’re part of, you will want the option to start your own team someday or to create a digital identity and position yourself as an influencer.
Be sure to check with your broker to determine the guidelines for how much you can do individually and how much you have to do under the umbrella of your brokerage. Each company has its own guidelines, marketing strategy and message, so you need to weigh these against your need to build your own autonomous identity, especially if you are a top-producing agent or the head of a market-leading team.
Abide by the overall company policy, but have your own individual growth strategy for how you want to position yourself within the team, brokerage and company.
Unifying and broadcasting your message
Successful Realtors understand the power of personal and team branding. It’s more important than ever to present a compelling and consistent message that resonates with your target audience. Effectively communicating your brand and “Why choose me?” is paramount to long-term growth.
As a team leader, broker or brokerage owner, you need to help the individuals in your organization balance their need for a personal brand with the consistency and unity of your brand’s message.
If you haven’t already, work on creating a clear and coherent brand message in the form of a mission statement or values statement. Ensure that everyone on your team has that statement on their website, profile, social media and other platforms.
Make sure everyone on your team and in your company understands and knows how to articulate the brand’s message. This extends to support staff and affiliated entities. It applies to top-producers and agents who only do one or two transactions each year. Being an effective brand ambassador is everyone’s job.
To build a consistent and compelling image, share positive client testimonials, achievements, success stories, content (curated and self-published,) professional speaking and earned media opportunities. It’s important to not only showcase current listings, but also properties you’ve successfully closed.
Here’s to perfecting your personal brand. Remember: It requires routine maintenance and monitoring to ensure your message is heard loud and clear.
Stacey Ross Cohen is a branding expert based in New York City.