Branding is more than words or visuals – it’s a belief system.
Learn why branding is as much about the process as it is about the final output, how it’s a journey of discovery that sets out to understand your beliefs, your clients’ perceptions and emotive feelings.
Whether you’re wanting to refresh your real estate brand messaging or undertake a complete overhaul of your business and its brand, there’s some ‘thinking’ that needs to be done in conjunction with your marketing and design team, as well as core members of your staff.
Today, we say G’day Frank, and talk with leading brand designer Reagan ‘Frank’ Mackrill – a valued member of the Hoole.co team – about the best way to bring our brand identities to life.
Click below to watch the video.
Following is the video transcript.
Three ways to look at your brand
Frank, you’re a branding expert and you help businesses of all shapes and sizes with their brand identity. How would you explain branding to the layperson?
I’d break branding down into three parts.
The first part is how a customer perceives your business. So branding and business are one and the same. It’s how your customer has a gut feeling about your business.
The second would be the way that you present your business. Looking at your brand values, the customers that you’re looking to engage with, the visual identity of how you outwardly portray yourself as a business through things like your logo.
Then the act of branding is what I do ‒ is creating the look and feel of the brand elements. So that’s how I would define branding ‒ in a more compartmentalised way rather than a broad form definition.
The core elements of a brand
From a creative perspective, what elements go into the brand other than the logo?
I think what most people would assume about a brand identity is that visual output, of what someone would see day-to-day.
If you look at it more from an inward point of view as a business, you’d be looking at things like your values, what your position in the market is, who your customers are which overlays with what marketers do as well, including yourself, Mel.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to figure out how to best connect with your client or end consumer.
Branding is one of those opportunities when you have to really think about who it is you’re trying to target and help or fill that gap in the market to be able to then create something that looks the part.
It needs to be memorable, recognisable and gains awareness and trust.
You want people to relate to your business. So you can’t just create a logo and hope it sticks.
You want to look at who you are, what you’re about, what your unique and collective voice is ‒ for your customer to make sense of what it is you are trying to convey.
Branding requires a discovery process
You work very closely with marketers and you do work with me and the Hoole.co team.
We use writers to tell the clients brand story in words, but you’re integral to telling the visual story.
My role is to partake in the discovery through to the visual execution.
My process is to run a discovery strategy session with a client to understand what their business is, what their goals are, and what their problems are.
That gets down to the core of why they need a logo because it’s probably not a logo that’s going to shift the needle for a business, especially if they’re an established business.
If they come to someone like myself and say “I need a new logo”, it’s probably not going to do much for them. There’s usually an underlying reason that they need to rebrand the business and it needs to be in a way that makes sense to either resolve a problem or meet some new aspirational goal to change or evolve as a business.
That then translates into things like messaging. So looking at positioning statements, core values, all that kind of stuff. That would be wording that you find on your website or on your brochures and things like that.
And then that will inform the visual side of things where you would create the logo, including a responsive logo that works in many different contexts as well as colour and type.
All these things that come out of the discovery phase and turn into key deliverables are, in my mind, what makes for an all-encompassing brand identity.
Beliefs are integral to your brand
So you can’t just jump into the visuals without doing the strategy?
You could, but I don’t think that would serve your business.
Everything must be cohesive from the way that you internally feel about your business to the way you externally express it, in all forms of communication; be it verbally, visually or intangibly.
It’s that feeling that you want to convey to somebody else. That this is a business that gets you.
It needs to be more than just a pretty picture on the wall. It needs to have some value and provide some kind of memory recall.
How often do you think you should refresh or rebrand?
Okay, I’ll take that in two parts because refreshing and rebranding are two different things;
Refresh your marketing every 1 to 2 years
Refreshing every two to five years isn’t a bad thing at all. I think if you were to look at it just from an example of your social media, you want to ensure that you do not look the same for that whole period of time because you could become stale, you could become outdated in the trends of what your customers are looking for.
Refreshing your look, for example, changing up imagery, can really boost your brand and make it look like you’re on the ball like you’re actually doing something, that you care about your business.
With a brand refresh, you still need to invest time to consider who you should change things up, including reevaluating what your customers or clients are looking for.
When/why you’d completely rebrand
Rebranding, on the other hand, is totally different. I wouldn’t suggest rebranding unless there’s something fundamentally wrong with your business or you’re really not proud to have the logo on your shirt or on the side of your door and see it every day.
If there’s something fundamentally wrong from a core standing of how you feel about your business or how your customers relate to your business, that’s something to explore.
I’d say in the real estate industry if you’re operating under the big umbrella of an LJ Hooker, rebranding is probably not your decision to make, but the way that you can communicate and express your personality, under that umbrella brand – that’s something that could be looked at over time as you evolve as a business owner or you bring on new people into your team.
How to remember, recognise and recall a brand
What ingredients are required to create a great brand?
The first one is time.
I think greatness comes with time with ‘brand equity’ you build us with clients and consumers. These are people that can remember, recognise and recall your business and your brand.
The other elements that I think are crucial, that go beyond the logo.
The logo is one thing that little mark can create something memorable over time, but beyond your hallmark, it’s what does that person feel about your business when they see that mark?
That’s what you want to grow over time. That’s why I say time is such a great ingredient. To create great branding, you need consistency, especially if you want to be a business that conveys your identity over every different touchpoint in a consistent way.
If someone goes to your website, they should see the same thing as they see on your Facebook page, on your newsletter, on your flyers, on signage, your billboards in front of your homes, and if you’re putting up ‘for auction’ signs, that kind of thing.
It all melds, it makes sense to a customer, they’re not confused by it either. So I think that’s what constitutes a brand of greatness and really makes a brand shine.
And that’s the challenge ‒ especially if you’re a big brand or you’re an independent with a big team.
Then you’ve got the challenge that you’ve got these mini brands or mini teams, and everybody’s making use of the brand, but they might not be following the brand rules and you have to police what they’re doing.
Creating an inclusive brand voice
Keeping everyone on the same page is one of the core components of brand management, especially if you have a big team and you’re not a one-man-band.
That’s especially the case in real estate, where you have either a small team or quite a significant team where you’re trying to get everyone on the same page.
When it comes to the core values, you have as a business, if you’re employing someone to come onto your team, having them align with those values can be difficult. That’s why part of the employment process is to look at people to see if they are aligned with those values before making the decision about if they’re right for your company.
What’s important is being able to have this new member of your team say the same thing that the next person would say in your team, and then what you would say, so that way everyone has this unified voice that just makes sense and is cohesive.
Branding is not a destination but a journey
So, it’s really important to bring your team on the journey or your staff, and explain the reasons why you’ve created the brand this way?
That’s exactly why in the discovery phase I get the team that would be the core management or the day to day face of the brand in because at the end of the day they will influence the rest.
Or the whole team if it’s a small business. Then we get every voice involved, to help make sense of the core essence of the business and make sure everyone’s on the same page with the process and having a unified goal.
It seems ridiculous if you don’t have all the key players involved from the start of your rebrand process. If you just have the C-suite, or if you just have the CEO or the director of the company then you’re really missing out on an opportunity to get a unified voice and understand what the result of the process will be.
And to get buy-in from the team as well, so that the company rebrand is actually a success.
Exactly, the whole thing could potentially falter if someone doesn’t want to get on board with the new brand and isn’t part of that process, because you’re not going to get that unified message.
Keeping your brand ahead of the curve
How did you personally keep your brands that you work on ahead of the curve?
How do you make sure that when you are devising an identity for a business that it’s not the same-old-same-old and that they’re going to look better than their competitors?
What’s going to set you apart from the next guy is who you are.
I think it all comes back to that personal story, that expression of who you are to convey yourself to that particular customer.
Now, if you look at your specific customer, it’s demographics or your geographic area, or if they are a particular age range or have certain interests, that’s where you can use that information to your advantage as a brand to make a better or stronger connection.
It’s that ability to relate. You want them to be part of what it is you’re doing and that’s where I think it comes down to things like content where you have the opportunity to connect with an audience from your different branded touchpoints like social media or YouTube or a podcast, which can build a rapport with potential clients, from a different level than just being in sales mode.
A brand is different from marketing and sales in the sense that it’s there for the long term. It’s not there for the short-term sales campaign. Your brand is consistently helping to build rapport, build relationships and that’s what content can do if you do branded content well.
About this video series
Hoole.co’s video series brings together the best digital and social media minds in the real estate industry, to share the wonders of the web and magic of mobile. Subscribe to Hoole.co or follow us on social media (below) for free tips and tricks to grow your reputation and attract prospects, digitally.