At this moment in time, I’m sitting in the Hilton in Las Vegas, nursing sore feet and an aching head (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas). I’m here attending and speaking at Real Estate Blog World and Blog World & New Media Expo 2009.
There are a bunch of really smart people here. And really good people.
Yesterday there was discussion in many sessions about branding. What it is, what it’s not, building your brand, all that sort of jazz. Some very good and thought-provoking stuff.
Like any conference though, some of the best things happen in the hallways. I had one such conversation yesterday. I was walking around wearing that annoying Phoenix Real Estate Guy t-shirt when someone I’d never met approached me. (For the life of me, sadly I can’t remember the guy’s name. I really need to work on name recall.)
We chatted about real estate and blogging when he asked me the name of my company.
“Thompson’s Realty,” I said.
“Dude, your brand name sucks,” he replied.
Naturally, I asked him why he felt that way.
“It’s not catchy. And you’re limiting your ability to sell your company someday to people named ”˜Thompson’. Why did you pick that name?”.
Well, because it’s my name. I figure that if I’m willing to attach my own name to my business then I won’t be able to hind behind some catchy name if/when something goes wrong. I want people to remember their experience with Thompson’s Realty by the kick-ass service they received, not because of some catchy name.
I don’t really care what the name of the company is.
I don’t really care that a non-Thompson might have to change the name if they were to buy my brokerage (which incidentally isn’t for sale unless you’ve got a ridiculous amount of extra money lying around).
As someone said yesterday (it was quite possibly the ubiquitous Jeff Turner from Real Estate Shows) a brand isn’t about your name, or your colors, or your logo. It’s about who you are, what you deliver and what you believe in.
We try to deliver the best real estate buying or selling experience on the planet. Do we succeed every time? Not even close. But we’re working on that. We know that going through the often daunting and tedious process of buying and selling real estate can be excruciating. We believe in making that as painless as possible. Are we successful at that every time? Nope. Trust me, it tears me up inside when we can’t sell someone’s house. I dwell on what we did wrong, what we could have done better. I feel like I let my clients down and I absolutely hate feeling that way. I don’t give a rat’s ass that the market stinks and there are things out of my control that may lead to an unsold home or a buyer not getting the offer accepted on a home they love. I failed to help them and that’s a lousy feeling.
That desire, that need to help people is our brand.
The name on the yard sign doesn’t mean squat.
I can think of a lot of successful companies named after the original founder (or founders in the case of Thompson’s Realty). Ever been to Disneyland? Ever driven a Mercedes-Benz or ridden a Harley-Davidson? Eaten a Hershey bar?
Those are all some pretty good (and tasty) brand names. They all evoke a certain feeling, a certain experience.
THAT is what a brand is. That is what we want our clients to experience. That is what we work on every single day.
What’s in a name?
It’s who is behind that name, and what they do, that matters.