Real Estate and Branding…What is in the name?

In late July or early August I migrate to Northern California for a few days of Inman Connect in San Francisco. It is a great conference that is an opportunity for REALTORS®, Brokers, Franchisors and Franchisees to come and hear from the latest “mouse trap” movers and shakers about what the next five years may bring to the world of Real Estate.

One of the best sessions led by Kelly Mitchell of Hawaii fame turned into an open and honest discussion about branding…for some attendees the first question was whether the topic of branding was and should be agent driven, broker driven or franchise driven.

Years ago, when I began my career…a REALTOR® chose a brand that fit their vision and worked within the brand….and if things did not work out or their marketplace changed, they moved to another brand that was more suited to the what they wanted for their future.

Now, as I look around in our large market that not only has competing franchises, but competing brokers within the franchises, competing agents within the competing brokers, within the competing franchises, I am really becoming confused….and if I am confused, what is the consumer feeling?

What I don’t get is why would I choose to move to a “brand” and then spend time, money and energy re-designing the brand? Is it because the brands are not moving fast enough to accommodate their agents? Is it because as independent contractors we all feel that we are the brand first and foremost and we are looking for that competitive edge?

BUT…here is the biggest question: Is branding just the logo design and colours or is it the quality and professionalism of the agents within the Company?  Does everyone reflect the vision of the owners?  Are owners aware of how they are being represented in the marketplace by their salespeople? If the salesperson’s income level is high, does the owner care they are not, or is profit the primary motivator?

I have watched talented agents over the years leave their Brands to establish new companies that expressed their vision of the Real Estate profession. In a lot of these cases the new Boutiques brands are diluted by mini offices that take new directions? Will the everyday race to pay the bills mean the erosion of the Boutique visionaries as reality sinks in….

So what does the future hold for the existing, the new and the Brands to come? Will they evolve quickly enough for the consumer and the REALTORS®? Will they learn to be ahead of the curve and can they be profitable in the long term if they are enticing agents with high splits and the latest in technological mouse traps. Will Brands truly reflect the owner’s vision or are we, as REALTORS, our own worst enemies?

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