Think Before You Brand
Most commercial real estate companies have
similar goals: serve clients well, achieve profitability, grow the
business. While identifying your company's goals is important,
determining how effectively you are reaching your intended audience is
just as critical. "Businesses have a vision of what their companies are
about, but what's really important is what their clients think," says
Ian Latham , chief executive of Latham & Co. Brand Consultants in
Latham suggests doing your homework before
spending money on a new company logo or ads in the local paper. First,
assess what your current and prospective clients think about you and
your business. "What ideas do they have about you" You want to be sure
you are properly understood in your market," Latham says. In phone
interviews, Latham uses structured questionnaires, open-ended
questions, and other techniques to gain "a vivid, dimensional picture
of the client brand, which provides a framework for strategic planning
Next compare your own views of your
company's mission, goals, and performance to those of your clients and
see what matches up. From there, companies can determine how a branding
strategy might help them bridge the gaps between market perceptions and
their actual performance.
To successfully build a
company brand, every employee must thoroughly understand, buy into, and
demonstrate it, Latham says. "Consistency is important -" with
follow-through, day-to-day contact, negotiations, the close," he says.
"You have to build an image that is almost like a living person," says
Todd A. Gold, CCIM, president of REOC Partners in San Antonio.
"Employees must identify with it to be able to give clients a unified,
professional image," he says. In the end, a sound, well-run
company is truly the most important prerequisite for a successful
branding strategy. For the brand to manifest, "you must have the goods
-" experienced, seasoned people and market knowledge -- to back it up,"
Gold says. Latham agrees: "Branding can't fix a business that is not