Does Your Real Estate Brand Need A Style Guide?
Do you need a real estate brand style guide?
Brand style guides are becoming more common among real estate professionals and companies. Do you need one too? If you do, what should be in it? What does a style guide do anyway?
Brand Style Guides 101
A brand guide, or style guide, is a guide that identifies your brand, organizes your thoughts, and makes it easy to share information with team members and advertising partners. This document contains everything pertaining to your real estate brand. Most notable brands in all business fields have style guides. Apple, Blackberry, Skype, McDonalds, Starbucks, DC Comics, and even locations like NYC, and famous modes of transport. Realtors, reality TV shows, and notable real estate tech companies have these style guides too.
Why Have a Real Estate Brand Style Guide?
There are lots of ‘nice to have’ things when you get into real estate or start a business. Few are really must haves, however. So where does a style guide fall within this spectrum. What are the real benefits?
A style guide helps keep a brand uniform. It’s doubtful Apple, McDonalds, Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, or even Realtors would have their same level of success if they didn’t maintain their branding across stores, products, and online. While branching out and franchising may be the last thing on many real estate investors minds today, it should be there. Even if it isn’t about spreading out, brand value and loyalty is very important. Think about Instagram and Skype: both where bought out for big numbers, by much larger competitors for their brands and followers. Ignoring brand building is just throwing away money. It can add millions and billions by doing the same tasks as you are now, providing the brand is maintained. This is clearly evident in the fashion world too. Even to the extent that the knock-offs are now likely a multi-billion dollar business.
A tight brand identity can also help keep the competition from stealing your business. You don’t want competitors stealing your potential leads and deals online, on the phone, on Facebook, or in your neighborhood because you didn’t have a clearly identified brand.
Having one can also elevate the value of your product and service. Subsequently, it can widen profit margins and the bottom line. Besides, you are going to create and use virtually all of the elements that go into a brand style guide anyway. Putting them in this file saves a lot of time and hassle later, and increases efficiency.
What should be in Your Real Estate Brand Guide?
What elements should be included in your brand guide?
There are no concrete rules, and you can certainly add or subtract whatever applies to you. Common items found in these guides include:
- Font choices
- Color schemes
- Spacing guidelines
- Photography guides
- Copy-writing guides
- Verbal branding (slogans, words to use, and avoid)
- Hierarchy of components
Some can be reasonably short. Others run over 40 pages long. In today’s virtual environment most will be presented in a PDF or PowerPoint type document.
7 Tips for Creating Your Own Real Estate Brand Style Guide
- Do it early. The earlier you do it, the better your branding
- Use a higher level strategist to create this guide, then delegate execution down
- Make sure your brand really matches you and connects with the best prospects and potential business partners
- Outsource your style guide to a professional coaching firm, freelancer, or agency
- Don’t make it so complicated that no one will ever bother to read it
- Make sure it gets used
- Always have multiple backups, so it is never lost
Allow some room for your brand image and style to evolve over time, as trends and consumers will. Remember that while this is a critical document, you shouldn’t have to overpay for basic elements like logos, which can be created very inexpensively.
While the bulk of real estate workers and small businesses probably float along without one of these guides, they can be highly valuable, and help to add real dollars to your business. It should be clear and concise, but above all; make sure you do it sooner rather than later.