The following is an excerpt from the new edition of the firsttuesday Career Manual, a best practices guide to help new real estate licensees establish their personal brands and boost income.

Whether you are a seasoned real estate professional or a newly minted licensee, you need to develop your brand. Branding is a critical career step toward attaining and retaining clients. The aura of a brand defines who you are and what you do. Here are the actions you take to choose and implement your real estate brand – and hone a professional persona.

Step 1: Choose your brand

In the real estate profession, image is everything. How potential clients and colleagues see you determines whether they want to hire or associate with you — and what they remember about you when they or an acquaintance considers employing a real estate agent.

To market yourself, your approach is to set yourself apart from other agents in your community. However, do not be so specific that you narrow the services you render or select a segment of the market as your specialty that is economically ineffectual to meet your financial goals. For instance, branding yourself as simply a “distressed property expert” is great for a limited amount of short-term clients who are active following a business recession, but not for clients over the long haul.

One direct way to build durability into your practice is to brand yourself as the neighborhood expert. This works for buyers and sellers of all types of homes in any neighborhood. It is also easily customizable to the pricing and clientele for each neighborhood where you market your services, called your FARM.

Also, when you qualify as a short sale expert, you mention it as one of your specialties as a neighborhood expert. Other residential specializations to consider mentioning are:

  • relocation;
  • Veterans Affairs (VA)-guaranteed mortgage;
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage;
  • military-friendly;
  • first-time homebuyers;
  • bilingual or multilingual and specify the language(s);
  • condos or multi-family;
  • luxury homes;
  • affordable homes;
  • land;
  • investment properties;
  • energy-efficient or green homes; and
  • senior living.

Check out what other agents are doing in your office to market themselves. Classify every one of them by the territory and type of properties they primarily work.  Also note the expertise they have set as their brand of real estate services. Ask yourself. What specialization is missing from the neighborhood you intend to farm?

These data take time to gather.  But your use of a spreadsheet and analysis of the behavior of others leads you to decisions in planning and implementation which will produce more clients and fees in the future.

Finally, be honest about yourself when developing your brand. When you have not worked with seniors before, it is not productive to tout yourself as a specialist in senior living.

Another iffy situation is the photo you use with your brand materials. One major pet peeve about real estate agents is the photos they use are often a headshot taken years ago before weight and styling have changed their appearance. When you use your picture in marketing materials, have a professional photo taken every two or three years. It avoids awkwardness or confusion when a prospective client meets up with you.

Step 2: Consider (or reconsider) a catchy slogan

You want clients to remember your name in a positive manner. You do not want them to roll their eyes when you are mentioned.

Stay away from cringe-worthy slogans, especially political, religious, or elitist slogans as they are generally inappropriate and may express a bias as viewed by some clients. Even if you think a slogan is clever, most of a general client base are not perceptive enough to see it as clever. Also, you want to ensure the pictures or graphics you use to depict your business are family friendly.

That said, when you come up with a catchy slogan that’s fun, inoffensive and helps clients remember your name, then go for it. This also works well when you do not yet have a specialty. In this case, you let potential clients know about another advantage they have when working with you.

Choose a descriptive personal characteristic you want to highlight as yours, like capable, supportive or reliable.

When branding yourself and your services as a business, do not be generic. You must distinguish yourself from everyone else who is a licensee.  Do not use words such as: integrity, honest, trustworthy, or god-fearing. You word the characteristics of your branding to present your specific talents and unique personality traits. Start by including your name in the slogan: “Billy Brown, the informed agent.”

Better yet, make it rhyme so your potential clients can easily remember you: “Don’t clown around, sell it fast with Billy Brown.”

You can also use your slogan to highlight your real estate specialty: “Mary Williams, The South Bakersfield Expert,” or “Selling South Bakersfield since 1998.”

Step 3: Market your brand

Now that you have the perfect brand for your services, how do you put yourself out front and draw more clients? Initially, you infuse your brand into all forms of marketing, including your:

  • agent website;
  • professional email signature;
  • business cards;
  • FARM materials you drop off while door knocking in the neighborhood(s)
  • signs or billboards; and
  • mailed marketing materials which you send to former and potential clients.

When you specialize in multiple types of real estate transactions, order different business cards for each specialty. That way, when you run into someone interested in buying their first home, you can hand them the business card which says, “The first-time homebuyer specialist.”

Likewise, when you speak with an investor seeking to sell or acquire residential property for income, you can hand them your “Residential investment specialist” card.

Set the duration for implementing your branding strategy. Be consistent in your presentation, and keep in mind it may take upward of a year or more before you notice an effect. To ensure you have staying power, set aside time in your schedule and money in your budget to market yourself for a period of several months in your FARM community. One promotional shot across the marketplace will not do it.

When you are completely new to real estate marketing, it takes around two-plus years before marketing your brand pays off with a reliable stream of clients. It takes time for any worthwhile activity to become known to a sufficient number of people to deliver meaningful results.

On the other hand, when you are changing your brand to fill a rising demand for other real estate services in the community and you already have a list of your prior clients, the results arrive much sooner.

Also consider investing in a couple out-of-the-box marketing strategies. For instance, become “the locally engaged real estate agent” by sponsoring a stretch of highway or volunteering to sponsor a local youth sports team or sit on a civic committee. Your sincerity and service to the community becomes an unspoken but advertised part of your brand — not to mention the opportunities which arise as you do meet prospective clients while engaging with other community volunteers.

Step 4: Common mistakes to avoid

When you have nailed down your brand image and marketing strategy, give your material a check for common errors before implementing it. Once you have built a brand, it’s difficult (and potentially costly) to change, especially if you’ve made a less than positive impression on your community — so get it right the first time.


  • using all capital letters to describe yourself or your services — it comes off as brash and insincere, more like a used car salesperson than the educated use of the language by a credible professional;
  • misspellings or grammatical mistakes — this makes you look either unintelligent or unable to pay attention to detail, traits clients do not want in their real estate agent; and
  • giving up on your brand strategy after only a few months of marketing, as it takes about two years before the payoff is measurable and consistent.