Are real estate agents really different?

[Cache – #82]

Real estate agents have a lot to learn about branding.  The essence of branding is being different, yet real estate agents seem to be oblivious that they all look and sound the same.  Their marketing materials are characterized by poorly-taken headshots, gaudy colours, crowded text and strident claims about being the best, most knowledgeable or most experienced.

The irony:  because competition among real estate agents is so incredibly intense, the differentiation achieved by strong branding is more needed in this industry than almost any other.

Consider these three ads, highly typical of the industry.  How is one meaningfully different than another?

Then look at the business card of real estate agent Tom Marchese, a client of mine.


Who do you think is actually different?

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3 Responses to Are real estate agents really different?

  1. Arijit Banik says:

    Evidently your client, Tom Marchese, stands out but think about the lip service that the other real estate agents give to their brand image: I would wager that they continue to be ignorant about differentiating themselves effectively because in a hot real estate market “a rising tide lifts all boats” but just as trees do not grow to the sky, real estate does not rise forever. The downturn will result in –to quote Warren Buffet’s own tide analogy– “After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
    I recall a classic post of yours some years back with (what I consider) one of your classic taglines: “Bumvertising: where do you sit” — I immediately thought of real estate agents. The growth of the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) economy has made these creatures increasingly hubristic but the inevitable downturn will force them to pay attention to the finer points of branding in a markt driven economy.

    • Coin says:

      “After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Hilarious!

      Thanks Arijit. Another stat I find interesting is that 50% of real estate agents in the Greater Toronto Area have never sold a house. It says something about the intensity of competition and about the possible attitude among some agents that it’s an easy job – that doesn’t require a strongly differentiated brand – when nothing could be further from the truth.

      “Bumvertising – Where do you sit?” is indeed one of my favourites. I am honoured you remember it. I will look for that piece and repost it.

    • Coin says:

      Hey Arijit – here is the post (made on an old blog of mine in 2005!)
      Bumvertising: Where do you sit??
      Bumvertising. No, it doesn’t have to do with plastering ads on posteriors. Rather, it is the nascent practice of using homeless people to peddle products to passers-by, most notably on their signs that otherwise ask for money, food or a job. Believe it or not, some people think the practice actually exploits the homeless.

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