News and advice
Why a distinctive brand is so important: Lessons learnt from a recent trademark case.
It’s no secret that real estate is a competitive business. Day in, day out, agents are competing for the attention of vendors and seeking ways to stand out from the crowd.
However, given the nature of the business it’s easy for agents to get stuck in a sea of sameness and many campaigns and brands end up looking very much the same.
According to Dan Argent, CEO of UrbanX, this represents a huge opportunity for agents to go against the grain and ensure their brand is different and distinct.
“Agents should never underestimate the value of unique branding. If you choose a name that’s generic and create brand assets that aren’t distinctive, you’re unlikely to build a strong brand.
“By choosing a name that relates closely to you, as an agent, and/or references your core areas you’ll be positioned to build a real name for yourself, much more so than choosing a generic name.”
And a recent court ruling reinforces his point, where a claimed trademark and passing off case was dismissed on the grounds that the name and brand of the party who initiated proceedings was too descriptive in referring to real estate and was too commonly used by other companies within the real estate industry.
Further, it was noted that the defendant’s brand (our client) was distinct in its visual elements, and as a result the judge could not see how the brand could create confusion in the market.
As the ruling shows, not only does being distinct set you apart, but it can also protect you and your brand – helping you uphold any trademarks you hold while also protecting you against trademark infringement claims.
Building a personal brand.
Building on the above, it’s also vital that agents build a strong personal brand for themselves. This goes beyond the visual design of a brand and it’s how you treat, interact and communicate with people that builds long term value.
It’s common knowledge that people list with people, not with brands (which was also highlighted in abovementioned trademark case).
“It’s extremely unlikely that a vendor will turn away a great agent because of the way their brand looks (unless it’s extremely terrible!), however they will turn away an agent with fantastic visual branding if they don’t connect on a personal level.”
Mr Argent continues, “In saying that, people can get turned off by brands – if they’ve had a poor experience with an agent operating under a large brand, they can write off the entire brand and drop them from their consideration list. That’s why we’re seeing a big move to agents building their own independent brand – they keep full control of their brand and their reputation.”
Some practical tips to building a distinct brand
Having launched over 100 world-class real estate brands with UrbanX, Dan shares these tips for creating a distinctive brand.
- Name – Where possible, use your name and or your core area, and avoid commonly used real estate terms. Once you have a shortlist, check the name you want to use is available by doing an ASIC business name search, and check that no-one else has a trademark (seeking legal advice is recommended)
- Visual brand – create distinctive assets. This means choosing an icon and fonts that are unique and difficult to replicate. Again, stay away from general images like a roof, a house, or any other common imagery. Check for any existing trademarks.
- Colours – Review your competition and avoid using colours that are widely used in your market. You want to stand out, and colour is a surefire way to do this quickly.
- Marketing – make sure you market yourself in a unique, authentic, and engaging way. As the advertising saying goes, “entertain for financial gain”!
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