Outside of a company’s marketing department, it can be easy to underestimate or even ignore the importance of brand. After all, if you have a logo everyone will know who you are - right? A focus on overall service and process - or a simple absence of time and resource - can mean that the very idea of brand frequently sits some way down the average letting agency’s business priority list.
However, brand is what permeates the mindset of every potential and existing customer, driving feelings of awareness, confidence and trust - or possibly otherwise. It forms the visual representation of your agency across the physical and digital spaces in which it can be found, whilst generating emotional reactions accordingly. So in an increasingly challenging landscape for letting agents - and in order to differentiate themselves from the competition - it’s important that agencies give their brand the attention it deserves.
What is brand, and why is it important?
Brand is a vital component of what will make a landlord pick up the phone to you when they have a property they need to let. It’s also what could send a house hunter straight to your office or website when they’re in need of a new place to call home. More than just a logo or a slogan, brand is the heartbeat and life force of your business. It’s how you as an agency are represented across advertising boards, digital channels, and within the thoughts of consumers. Trust, transparency and honesty - or the exact opposites - are all values that can be quickly conveyed by your brand.
Where to begin?
At its heart, your brand is your agency’s identity - but it’s also more complex than that. Your brand is the collection of feelings, understandings and interpretations experienced by someone when they come across your company, however and wherever this may be.
Now more than ever, particularly due to the ongoing growth and influence of social media, companies have less and less control over their perception in the public eye. But actual branding - which can be defined as the part of their brand that they actually control - remains the primary influence they have over how they are viewed by the consumer.
Branding can mean everything from the attitude of your negotiator as she shows a potential tenant around a property, to the type of paper you opt to use for your business cards and the way this makes them feel in the hand of a potential new landlord. For the purposes of this blog, however, we will be looking more at the visual design assets that make up your agency branding - along with your agency’s tone of voice.
In a competitive environment where the growth of digital channels has provided even the smallest agencies with the means to ‘act big’ and potentially reach more potential customers than ever before, it’s vital to maintain a highly professional brand in order to inspire confidence and stand out from competition.
Quality and consistency matter
The two main components of professional-looking branding are quality and consistency.
Your logo is the key visual identifier of your agency. Whether it’s a graphical icon, your business name in a stylised font, or a combination of both, it will be your most constant brand association and will find itself on just about all of your collateral and livery. A logo should portray your agency in a simple way, and can be literal, abstract, or somewhere in between.
Your brand colours
Colour is a vital part of brand recognition. Your brand identity may be built around a single, recognisable colour - think Facebook - or you may utilise a more complex palette. Regardless, it’s important that the colours you use are complementary and consistent in order to develop and reinforce the association with your brand. A helpful Hubspot article deconstructs and analyses some of the most famous company colour schemes around today, while Paletton is a great tool for identifying and testing complementary colour schemes.
And be effective by getting creative - for example, why not commission a map of the local area based entirely on your colour scheme to display proudly in your offices, and use the Google Maps API to customise and create a similar digital version that can be used on your website.
When working on a new colour scheme, create colours using CMYK first and then convert them to RGB mode in order to ensure that your colours look as vibrant and consistent as possible across both print and digital channels.
The font(s) you use on the web and in print go a long way towards communicating your style and ethos to the consumer. Your choice of font can subconsciously make them decide whether your agency is elegant, modern, traditional, sophisticated, playful, functional, or something else entirely - so give it some real thought. Try using Font Pair to get some ideas of fonts that work well together both on screen and in print.
Tone of voice
Quality and professionalism don’t necessarily need to mean a stoic and serious tone of voice when it comes to your brand. Many organisations - particularly newer ones - are having great success engaging with their customers by adopting a playful, light-hearted tone in their copy and correspondence, generating feelings of warmth and familiarity. You may opt for something more traditional and authoritative - but the starting point for consideration should always be the way you want people to feel about your agency when they read your output. Whatever tone you go with, and however it represents your business, keep it consistent across your website, printed adverts, listings, and all other copy.
Crucially, your branding needs to represent your agency effectively and consistently across a multitude of channels and platforms. Websites, portals, banner ads, to let signs, car livery, street ads, newspapers, animated screens, business cards, letterheads, compliment slips...the list goes on. Consistency wherever it is seen inspires confidence in and raises awareness of your business, so it’s important that your people and partners are fully clued up on how you should be represented. Don’t forget that your negotiators are extensions of your brand whenever they are interacting with landlords or tenants, and the way that they speak, dress and behave also influences overall consumer perception of your agency.
Move with the times
Whether we like it or not, modern businesses are increasingly at the mercy of a growing number of digital platforms and portals when it comes to their marketing output, and need to regularly adapt their assets in order to fit in with the design styles and restrictions that are put in place by these third parties.
For example, a wider, more landscape-style logo which may have suited your purposes perfectly for years may now need to be adapted to ensure your brand remains effectively represented in the square or circular requirements of avatars (profile pictures) across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. A wide logo may not fit in this space whilst retaining clear visibility - so you may have to generate an alternate version. See Northwood UK for an example.
This also applies to the favicon that appears in the corner of a user’s website browser tab. Is your brand quickly and easily recognisable amongst the row of other icons lined up across the top of the average user’s browser, or does an ineffectively-sized logo get lost?
Use this social media cheat sheet courtesy of Louise Myers to make sure you are always using the right image sizes and aspect ratios when it comes to your letting agency’s branding across social media.