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In the world of corporate jargon, the importance of something like a brand audit can get lost. In fact, when done properly, a brand audit can be transformative. In the competitive world of commercial real estate, effective branding can be the difference in landing clients and making sales.
This isn’t just a theory or one commercial real estate marketer’s opinion. It’s documented fact. In a survey of more than 1,000 consumers by British-based online retailer OnBuy, 71% of respondents cited brand recognition as very or somewhat important in purchasing decisions. More than three-fourths of investors consider brand strength in their investing decisions.
All this is true because a company’s brand isn’t just about its logo and letterhead. A company’s brand is about who the company is, what the company values and how it relates to its customers and the world.
Assessing a commercial real estate firm’s brand can be done in two simple steps: First, ensure the company’s decision-makers are on board with the vision and mission they want communicated and, second, identify professional marketers who know the business and understand branding to conduct the audit.
A brand that makes strong statements about who the company is and what it values starts within. So, a brand audit begins with reviewing internal branding. Everyone who walks the halls of a commercial real estate office and represents that firm in the community should understand what the company values are and what its mission is. Values and mission form a company’s vision and shape its culture. It’s not enough to simply talk about these things. They should be expressed in writing and lived out on the job.
A brand audit should look at whether the company’s values and mission are being effectively communicated to employees. As the Harvard Business Reviews’ Colin Mitchell explains, internal and external branding should be linked and materials should be just as skillfully and thoughtfully produced as advertising, brochures and offering memorandums.
“The communications materials must ring true for employees and must draw on the company’s very soul,” Mitchell writes, “reflecting and reinforcing what people care about and what makes them come to work in the morning. … To be effective, these materials must be as creative and eye-catching as the materials you deliver to an external audience. Just as in a consumer advertising campaign, you need to surprise and charm your audience.”
External branding includes all the elements that typically spring to mind when the subject of branding arises: Logos, ads and brochures, websites, social media, email pitches and blogs and other content marketing. Consistency is key, in design and message, across all products, inside and outside the company.
Just as Mitchell says should be done with internal branding, external branding should be handled by professional marketers, who understand the need for the company vision and mission to be expressed in each component of branding, from the words to the design to the typography. The repetition of the company vision in every aspect of its branding is central to establishing brand identity.
In conducting a branding audit, these are the kinds of questions marketers should be asking: Is the company’s vision clear? What message does the company’s branding convey? Is it consistent and compelling?
Finally, branding should be carried into the customer experience, in the way a commercial real estate firm’s sales process works and how sellers make their pitches and in customer service policies and operations. This is where branding all comes together in action and execution. A branding audit should determine whether the customer experience matches the company’s state vision and mission. If it does not, even the sharpest, most polished brand can lose it luster.
Need help with your brand audit? Give us a call or shoot us an email. We are always ready and eager to help you learn more about making your commercial real estate marketing efforts as effective as possible.