How to shape a great real estate brand in 2017

Leading real estate agencies need to think outside the square and apply modern approaches to their brand identities through new techniques in digital design, visual imagery and tone of voice. Mark Cairns from CAMPAIGNxpress shares what he and other industry brand marketers have identified as important considerations in 2017.

There’s no doubt that a strong, modern brand is imperative to making an impact in your marketplace. Your brand requires not only a memorable name and easily identifiable logo but clear and consistent brand messaging through design, imagery and tone of voice. You must also maintain an awareness of the impact your brand makes across every single customer touch point.

Brands need to think mobile and new media formats first

The steady increase in smartphone usage has revolutionised the way consumers interact with brands and in turn the way brands interact with consumers. People now consume more data and content on their devices than ever before.

Brands are no longer designed in print and then web formats as the primary destinations. Smart marketers have changed tack and start with considerations around how their brand will be experienced in smaller formats first. So the need to shape your brand elements for mobile, social and search advertising has come to the fore.

Brand designers understand that in today’s digitalised world they have less control over the output of their brand. Branded marketing materials and ads will appear differently across a multitude of advertising channels and devices.

Also, the platforms we advertise on update their formats and features frequently, be that the portals, social media sites or Google. The modern brand manager needs to stay abreast of these changes and be able to think outside the box. Brand elements must now be interactive and adaptive in this whole new digitalised world.

The key to designing a brand around digital and mobile formats is that it must be simple, lightweight and responsive. The exciting part is that new media has come on leaps and bounds. Design elements have become more sophisticated and font options more varied. We can now create interactivity through SVG animations and illustrative video through the use of Javascript. Even more exciting is that augmented and virtual reality is rapidly coming into the fray. All these elements bring personality to our brands and give us a chance to bring them to life on the screen.

Use magazine layouts and lifestyle imagery to evoke emotional connections

On the traditional media side of the spectrum, publications, brochures and newspaper advertising have been trending towards cleaner designs, presented like magazine layouts. Domain.com.au is a case in point, with its recent ad campaign promoting the new Domain Magazine.

Print layouts are bringing back larger amounts of white space, minimising the use of block colour and putting the visual emphasis on beautiful lifestyle photography.

Lee Valentine, a partner at Hoyne, an advertising agency that specialises in property branding, says, “The recent evolution in property photography toward lifestyle imagery has been very brave. The use of mood settings and emotive images that include moving figures and even pets is on the rise. Forward-thinking agencies and their agents have done well to rely on their brand intelligence and convince vendors that this is an excellent way to advertise.”

Sydney’s BresicWhitney is a great example of an agency pushing the boundaries in brand design and visual imagery. Bucking the age-old trend of staid property images, they create brand campaigns for themselves and clients that look like they are straight out of the pages of Vogue Living.

Similarly, boutique brand Hutton & Hutton, from Brisbane, launched their brand this year. Karen Hutton, a brand marketer and professional copywriter, explained that “We decided to go for a simple look that let our clients’ properties shine first and foremost. And when it comes to the language we use within our brand, our approach has been to use the term ‘you’ a lot to speak directly to our clients as well as key buyer audiences.”

Develop a brand tone of voice that’s authentic and personable

Karen’s approach to developing brand communications is to imagine that she’s speaking to just one person. “What do they do – are they in business, are they retired, are they juggling the needs of a family? Once I have decided on a demographic, I write directly to them.”

Karen’s advice to anyone devising a brand communication strategy is to consider your tone of voice. “You need to decide how you are going to express yourself in written form to your clients. Focus on the language you will use and the emotions it will invoke. It doesn’t have to be airy-fairy. At Hutton & Hutton we aim to be warm and welcoming. We want to be perceived as intelligent, yet intimate and authentic.”

Lee Valentine’s advice is also along the same lines. “It’s time brand communications moved away from the impersonal to the personal.” He recommends real estate businesses think carefully about the community with whom they are trying to engage. “Who are your ideal clients and what will motivate them to select your agency to sell their home?” Lee encourages brand managers to engage great copywriters and get them to evoke emotion into their brand language.


Mark Cairns leads the charge at CAMPAIGNxpress, the innovator in cloud-based campaign management software. Mark’s experience at franchise group marketing level, alongside many years in ad agencies, make him a great advisor to any property business owner looking to improve marketing operations.

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