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Branding

Real Estate Websites & Curb Appeal Gucci Style: More Than Meets The Eye

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As part of our brand strategy services, we design websites to be consistent with the brand and for curb appeal, we do not develop them.  In other words our concern is with the aesthetics of a site  and not the codes needed to make it work. 

As part of our brand strategy services, we design websites to be consistent with the brand and for curb appeal, we do not develop them.  In other words our concern is with the aesthetics of a site  and not the codes needed to make it work. 

This past Tuesday morning, we took time to walk along Beverly Hills famed Rodeo drive to study the latest remodel revealed of the flagship Gucci store (pictured above) which began in May of 2018. 

We focused on studying the design. The extensive use of marble combined with a green metal for the brand name and support emphasized the longevity of this luxury brand (founded in1921, in Florence) as well as it new progressive era combining it with metal as part of the design.  

The marble is cut in pieces in "trompe l'oeil," style, and precisely placed in a geometric pattern to create the 3D illusion. This translates from French as optical illusion or something that fools the eye.  To the touch the surface is flat.

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The entry way to the store is a curved wall of trompe l'oeil inviting you into the store.  The other side of the entry is a curved glass wall giving you a peek of their merchandise.  It gives the shopper a feeling that there is more than meets the eye, a sense of surprise and excitement, wanting to see more, (pictured below).

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Does your website have curb appeal?

Branding Moment in Beverly Hills: Balenciaga & Frank Lloyd Wright Building!

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We mentioned in many of our previous posts,, how the City of Beverly Hills requires a beautiful façade of a store that is being remodeled.  The facade can be used to promote the brand.

We liked the black and white photo which in our view recalled the history of this luxury brand.  Having a store next to the  three story, Frank Lloyd Wright building, (known as the Anderton Court Shops) which was finished in 1952.  This added to the "gravitas" defined as: Gravitas is associated with ideas of weight, influence, or authority, and also sobriety and seriousness.   This is what we refer to as "borrowed landscape" one historical landmark lending credibility to a brand steeped in historyr.

Pictured above is the new store that Balenciaga is opening on Rodeo Drive.  Cristobal Balenciaga founded the store in 1917, in San Sebastian, Spain.  He later expanded his locations to Barcelona and Madrid.  His innovative designs led him to Paris, when he had to close the Spanish stores during the Spanish Civil War. 

During the WWII people risked their lives by traveling to Europe just to see his fashion shows.  In 1972, he closed his stores and the brand lay dormant until 1986.  One of his many students or protégés was famed designer Hubert de Givenchy, (favorite designer of Audrey Hepburn).

Branding Moment: 8 Basic Ways to Analyze the Power of a Brand Name

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As confirmed chocoholics, we noticed this chocolate selection in the chocolate aisle of our market.  And because we love the branding process, the brand name also caught our attention.  Here are some basic ways we analyze a brand:

1. The name is a play on the phrase "alter ego" defined as a person's secondary or alternative personality.  Is it distinctive enough or memorable?

2.  Does the name address the market it intends to reach?  It does focus on attracting thosewho are ecologically minded and prefer organic products, and they are proud of it.  The slogan under the name, "enlightened indulgence" is intended to have the buyer feel good for buying it..

3.  Can the name be used on other products if the company were to start another related business?  In designing real estate brands we often think in terms of "exit strategy", when the company or agent decides to sell the business or start another business.

4.  Does the brand name have any negative connotations? Based on the definition of alter ego: (the bad side of a person that may come to life at anytime, switching your personality—this is fantasy, though some people may believe they have an alter-ego), it may be construed as such.

5.  Is the name original?  It is important to do a trademark search.

6.  Is it a name the marketplace will remember?

7.  Will it have word of mouth power, or social media power that will last? 

8.  And most important is the product delicious to those who are tempted to buy it?

When I (A) pointed it out the brand to Ron, he reminded me that dear friends who are also chocoholics had sent us a bar to try.  I had forgotten, the name and the experience.  Ron remembered the name.   Neither one of us thought that the taste was memorable enough for us to buy again.  

Keep in mind that tastes differ.  Perhaps some of you who may have tried this brand will disagree with us. Again, this a basic guideline to analyze a brand name!



How to Turn Glitches, Hitches, Hiccups & Problems into Opportunities to Build Customer Loyalty

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All highly successful real estate marketing professionals understand the high cost of client acquisition and the importance of maintaining customer loyalty over time. But clients can be fickle. The same applies for broker-agent relationships. The slightest unresolved or ignored problem or hiccup in an otherwise flawless relationship can set the stage for customer disloyalty and cause agents to jump ship to your competitor. 

 

The way you handle glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems, and the timeliness in which they are addressed is where the rubber meets the road in remarkable client (and agent) service. This last week provided us with an amazing study in contrast between remarkable customer service and extremely poor service. One company lost us as a customer before we received our first online order. The other company strengthened our customer loyalty to a brand that we have been raving about for years. 

The Missed Opportunity 

I ordered an assortment package of various perishable food items online, inspired by the brand story of this start-up that we heard about on TV, i.e., by word-of-mouth advertising.  On their website it states, “We ship via Fedex on Tuesdays. Your order will arrive on your doorstep Wednesday – Thursday”.

When the package did not arrive as promised, I notified the company by email and made a phone call to their customer service number.  I got a recording that they would answer the call within one day. 

But there was no email reply, nor was the phone call returned. When the package finally arrived on Friday, we refused it. I notified the company asking for a refund.  “No refunds or returns. See our return policy on our website.” was the answer that came back! After politely reiterating that the delivery came one day later than what was promised on their website, I then had to call my credit card and stop payment.  I also stated that we would alert the credit card company if they changed their mind about the refund, which they finally did. This glitch was an opportunity to turn us into raving fans. But it was too late.

The Golden Opportunity

Ron accidently broke his sunglasses, for the second time that we bought from our favorite brand. When we contacted them for the repair the estimate was going to cost as much (including postage and previous repair) as we had paid for this item in the first place. When I questioned the sturdiness of the glasses and the expense in an email, I received a long lecture explaining how we should use the itemassumingwe had misused it. In other words, this was clearly our fault. 

We had praised this company in blog posts and also to our friends for years.  Just as we were about to give up on this brand, the company sent another email to ask us if we were satisfied with their responses.  I wrote back saying, I felt lectured rather than helped, and realized that this may be company policy.  I also added that my brand loyalty was shaken.  The next response I received was that they would take care of the repair at no charge to us. Loyalty restored!

Missed opportunity or Golden Opportunity?  That is the question when it comes to handling glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems in your real estate practice or in your company. 

 

Branding Moment: Give Your Clients A License To Chill!

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In marketing yourself as a luxury real estate marketing professional, it is important to clearly state your promise of value which would differentiate you from the pack.  In a recent post, we discussed testing the pain point threshold in marketing.  Here is an example from the airline industry, which was shaken up when Emirates came on the scene. The company smartly addressed all the pain points of airline travel with great service, food, and even nannies for children in all classes. 

This ad (pictured above) caught our attention., In one fell swoop the company explained its promise of value, plane pain relief.  Their slogan is “Experience a new level of comfort”.  Many of us who fly for business or vacation consider the plane experience the opposite of pleasurable or comfortable.  

We have friends who have flown Emirates in coach, business and first. They have raved about the services in each class, and the ease of booking. Our finicky friends even liked the food and wine, as well as the ease of traveling with Emirates.  So far, we have not flown to the destinations serviced by Emirates. 

I (A) spend a lot of time booking flights for our various trips.  I read various travel related columns and also stay current on the fine details of how to use the points we have accumulated over the years of traveling in order to upgrade us to business or first class for added leg room and comfort especially on cross country flights or overseas.   

Regardless of which class we fly, we bring our own snacks, load up our iPads with books to pass the time, and do our best to sleep through most of the flight.   When we land, we cannot wait to get off the plane. Once in a while, we do have a great experience, and we definitely take time to praise in the reviews when asked.  

Watch for the pain points you may encounter in working with sellers/buyers.  Look for ways to minimize them or eradicate them from the experience of buying or selling real estate.  Give them a license to chill!

The Closing Gift Conundrum: It Depends...

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In our sixteen years of focusing on branding and marketing in various niches of the real estate industry with both companies and agents, we have seen innumerable ways that real estate marketing professional in all facets of the industry attract clients, and create a referral stream.  

Closing gifts is one way to assure this happens.  We have heard and read many discussions on the subject as to what works and what does not work when it comes to closing gifts. We have concluded that the appropriate answer is that it dependson the personalities of the agents and the personalities of the people they attract.  Remember, the old adage: People like to do business with people like themselves.

It is not uncommon to hear that someone with a high-end listing will show prospects homes in a chauffeured limousine, for instance.  Or, they will rent a helicopter to view the property if they have a buyer for large tracts of land, ranches or vineyards.  They will also wine and dine them at posh restaurants.  We have seen the same type of service albeit less extravagant at the mid-range level in real estate, as well as in commercial real estate also.

Here is an example of a successful agent who feels that gift giving is the best method   to attract those who are ready to buy or sell.  We call it, the “treat them as if they ruled the world “system. 

This agent specialized in luxury real estate. A special gift from Tiffany’s was sent after a listing presentation.  It was a clever gift, a silver pen. The attached gift card explained this was the “special” pen for the potential sellers/buyers to sign the closing papers with. This individual had a high enough percentage of buyers/sellers sign the exclusive for this method to justify the cost.  At the end of the transaction, there was another luxury gift for the client.

This is one way of doing business, it worked for this individual. Even in the age of electronic signing, this person is still spending money with Tiffany’s on other items as the opening gambit.Keep in mind that this is the type of client this individual attracts over and over again, because this agent would want to be similarly treated, if he/she were the seller or buyer.  It worked.

At the same conference, we, we were speaking at, we met another agent whose approach was radically different. This person does not give gifts, she spontaneously gets them from happy clients. This is another approach to working with the wealthy or any other type of financial strata that one is working with.  

Her stance is that her service is invaluable, her knowledge of the luxury market impeccable. She has an impressive roster of clients who praise her expertise and prowess. These are the clients she consistently attracts. She is a player on an equal footing with her clients who are treated like partners in the process of selling or buying a home.  Although, she does not expect a gift, she often gets gifts from her clients.   

Find your approach, express it clearly and you will attract the very ones you would like to work with.  There is no right or wrong here, it depends on your personality and the people you would like to do business with.  As a rule, we gave ourselves a gift when we closed a deal.

What Is Marketing Magic? Is It A Rabbit Pulled out of Hat?

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We live and breathe marketing and branding day in and day out for our clients. We are constantly tweaking strategies based on evidence of psychographics (lifestyle) to refine the message for our luxury real estate client’s listings in their target market as it evolves and changes with the times. Our view on marketing magic is not a rabbit pulled out of a hat.  

 

What is appropriate for a magic show has no value in luxury or other real estate marketing.  Gimmicks have short life spans and may generate cash.  Gimmicks at some point they will die of natural causes as interest wanes.  Skip the gimmicks!

 

Successful marketing in real estate or any other profession is based on the fundamentals of marketing.  Keep in mind, that marketing is not synonymous with Sales.  As our favorite marketing guru, Peter Drucker stated: The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

 

People want to do business with people they trust, respect and like.  If you take a moment to review the brands you like doing business with, you will no doubt be able to enumerate what makes them special in your opinion.  You trust how they do business, what they stand for and what you can expect from them.  It is easy for you to recommend them.  

 

Getting the message right, (your unique promise of value) to your target market will never change, regardless where you promote your message. Remember both psycho-graphics and demographics change as time goes by.“Focus on the right message for the right people at the right time.” – Russell Glass. 

 

Know your audience is something we have preached over and over again in our posts.  Do not just relay on demographics or what someone tells you about a neighborhood.  ‘Listen to your customers, not your competitors.”Joel Spolsky.  Take time to research, and then take time to make sure your research is accurate. 

 

Get out of your office and go talk to people.  Get to know them.  Understand what makes them tick and what they are about.  What are their aspirations, values and desires when it comes to buying or selling a home?   We are talking about psychographics or generally speaking lifestyles. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”.  Peter Drucker

 

Know your market inside out, every minute aspect of it.  We have met several agents with whom we have worked, who can tell you the history of all the homes in their marketplace.  

 

Do not strut your stuff. It is a turnoff when someone is constantly referring to their three-favorite people (me, myself and I).  It is also off putting to compare one’s superiority over the competition, however subtle you think you are. “The customer expects you to have knowledge of their stuff, not just your stuff.”Jeffrey Gitomer

 

The biggest fundamental once you have come up with a marketing strategy is ConsistencyMaintain your visibility during lean and good times. The elements (discussed above) make marketing magical.  Leave the rabbit out of this!

Throwback Thursday: Branding Moment with History plus Localism Strategy

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Standing out from the crowd of sameness is a concept we highly recommend to those who want to dominate their marketplace in the real estate industry. Whether you are a luxury real estate marketing professional, or focus on any other part of real estate, differentiation is key in your branding and strategy.  Here is an example of using a brand strategy that implies history and localism.

We came across these bottles of wine (pictured above) in one of our favorite upscale supermarkets in town.  These bottles stood out among the rest.  They look like they came from and ancient cellar laden with dirt and dust, when making glass bottles had not been perfected.

Our research revealed that in 1952, Père Anselme came up with the idea to create a bottle that would evoke the origins of wine.  Its theme (according to their website) "The wild movement of the grenache vine twisted in the strong Provence Mistral wind".  Mistral is a strong, cold northwesterly wind that blows through the Rhône valley and southern France into the Mediterranean, mainly in winter. Even the bottle reflects the force of the Mistral winds, and the gnarled vines.

This bottle shape is a “fiole”.  Translating the French into English, it means, vial, or flask. In ancient times, liquids in vials were thought of as precious and of great value.  The bottle was created by local master glass craftsmen, and is exclusive to the Brotte family.  

The fiole is used to bottle non-vintage wines, a blend of the best vintages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape from current and past years. This is a common practice in the Champagne region.  Quite often you will find that the non-vintage blends taste better and are rated higher than their vintage counterparts.

Reviews on this wine are mixed among the critics. We did not buy it on the look or label.  We admired it for its originality and concept.  They do stand out among the rest with their brand strategy of history plus localism. a

How to Avoid Real Estate Branding Confusion, or the Me-too Marketing Box

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Perhaps one of the most important principles that luxury real estate or any other real estate marketing professionals need to understand about personal branding for real estate agents is this: Out-think, not out-spend your competition. If you want to out-smart your competition, find something, some niche that you can do better than anyone else in your marketplace. Don’t waste your time or your money becoming a what is known in marketing speak as the “me-too”in a niche that your competitor dominates.

Every year in the United States companies invest over $300 billion in marketing products and services. A huge portion of this is spent on introducing new brands in the marketplace. The majority of these new product launches never get off the ground.  The reason for this is that they are a me-too.  Here are several ways to tell if your brand is a me-too.

Your website looks like your competitors, same design, same colors, same template etc.

You use the same social media channels and other channels to spread the word of your brand, and your marketing resembles your competitors.  You even use the same vendors that everyone else uses.

Potential clients cannot tell the difference between you and everyone else, because your story and services sound the same as everyone else’s: professional photography including drones, state of the art technology to drive leads, to your website, brilliant SEO, and so on and so forth.  Even your promises are similar.

You use the same words as your competition to differentiate yourself, including the same real estate designations.

If any of these are true for you, you will be doomed to outspending your competition in order to be noticed first

As a real estate or luxury marketing professional, the size of your advertising budget does not guarantee your success if you fail to form a strong emotional connection with your target market, whether it be with consumers or referring real estate agents from outside of your marketplace. Win the hearts and minds of your target market in a niche you can own.  There are so many niches to own and create when you think outside of the me-too box.

Blurring Branding: A Case of Monkey See Monkey Do Branding!

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If your aim in luxury real estate or any other branch of real estate is to have the majority of the market share in a niche or specialty, it is important that your brand is hard to blur, in other words hard to imitate. The logo and design should be original in order to prevent someone from copying your brand or colors making slight changes.  Blurring in legalese is known as “trademark dilution”.  The intent is to confuse the consumer into buying your brand, because it is similar to something that is already familiar.  A big firm whose logo has been blurred has the funds to sue and prove that the blurring party is affecting their business and profitability. 

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Pictured above is a perfect example of blurring in tuna.  We have been partial to the Genova Brand of tuna for many years. As we passed the supermarket tuna aisle we noticed that Bumble Bee had rebranded. Prior to discovering Genova, we bought Bumble Bee exclusively.  You can see the original can on their website using a blue and white label, the one we were accustomed to.  For someone in a hurry, it would be easy to pick up the new Bumble Bee rather than the Genova, especially since they share shelf space with Genova, and vice versa those wanting Bumble Bee may find the wrong brand in their bag when they get home.   

 Prior to starting our own commercial real estate firm in Los Angeles, we were wooed with a deal we could not refuse by a new company located minutes from our home in Brentwood on the Westside.  The broker owner had branded his commercial real estate company as Citi-Pacific.  He had spent large sums of money on the logo, video, signs, stationary cards, etc. It was intended by his branding company to give him as a new company a perception of legacy. Six months later, he received a nice cease and desist letter from Citi Bank’s law firm. They own the word “citi”. However, they were also willing to reimburse the costs (by providing invoices) he had incurred in branding.   He had to change the spelling to “city”.  

 Recently, a web developer contacted us to ask us to send him business both as a developer and designer. He sent us his recent work for a real estate company/agent.  It was clear that the template he used was one we had seen, over and over again.  It was a case of fill in the blanks: new agent photo, new location photo (sometimes using the same photo) for another agent in the area.  We have seen that same site in the same marketplace done in different colors, and in some cases the same copy.  We push both our graphic designer and our web developer to come up with something new and different, every time.

If you are tempted to blur to save money, don’t!  Someone may send you a cease and desist letter especially if they have the means to do so.  Blurring is a slippery slope.  Eventually even if they do not sue, they will point out that you have monkey see, monkey do branding.  In the case of Bumble Bee, it lowered our previous high esteem of the brand.  

If you are tempted to blur to save money, don’t!  Someone may send you a cease and desist letter especially if they have the means to do so.  Blurring is a slippery slope.  Eventually even if they do not sue, they will point out that you have monkey see, monkey do branding.  In the case of Bumble Bee, it lowered our previous high esteem of the brand.  

Branding: How Attractive Is This New Brand in Beverly Hills?

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One of the first rules in luxury real estate marketing and branding strategy is to identify your market, and to thoroughly research and know without the shadow of a doubt if that market will generate the income to support your lifestyle.  This is the first priority.  Selecting a name and creating a brand will naturally follow from this exhaustive search and discovery.

Today in the wee hours of the morning, we were touring Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills' prime retail street. Among all the established brands, we found this new one called Billionaire.

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Our first question in a luxury real estate marketing and branding project would be:  Who is your target buyer?  California is home to 92 billionaires, and the majority live in Northern California.  The US has a total of 540 billionaires, and the world has 2,208 billionaires according to Forbes Magazine, May 2018 issue.  Is that a high enough pool of customers to meet their rent, their cost of goods, and their employees salaries?

We have met and spent time with a handful of billionaires (US), and our impression is that they would not be attracted to this store.  Other than a prestigious yacht club crest on a polo shirt, we have not observed any with a "billionaire crest" blazer, nor "billionaire" brand crests on their casual shoes.  The majority are humble and do not brag or advertise their wealth. The use of a lion headed mannequin is implying that billionaires are "kings of the jungle." Is that attractive, or is it an overused and trite symbol of wealth?

We would guess that their prices are on par with the neighboring stores on either side of the street. We ask our readers:  "Who will buy this Billionaire Label?, Who will this label attract?"  We look forward to hearing your answers.  

Differentiation in Branding: Confused or “Corn fused”?

As a luxury real estate marketing professional or any real estate marketing professional, if you are seeking additional market share and visibility, it is important to give a complete picture of how you are different without any potential confusion to the buyers or sellers that may seek your services.  Here is an example of confusion, which turned into more confusion or “corn fused!”

Some of you many have seen the Bud Light commercial during the Super Bowl.  This was an attempt by Bud Light to differentiate themselves from their competitors, Miller Lite and Coors Lite by stating that they do not use corn syrup, whereas the competition does.  This was an attempt to claim their unique selling proposition, and transparency. A spokesman for Bud Light as quoted in Forbes: “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials were meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers. This effort is to provide consumers transparency. We’re proud of what we put into Bud Light and what we leave out like – corn syrup, preservatives and artificial flavors”. 

In response, Miller Lite explained in a full-page ad in the New York Times, that they are proud to use they use corn syrup, and not high fructose corn syrup.  This statement creates more confusion for the consumer. The bottom line is that both forms of corn syrup are sugar.  The reason folks drink light beers is because they are concerned about their health which includes an intake of calories, especially carbs.  Whether it is high fructose or corn syrup it usually produced from GMO corn, which is another health concern for many consumers.  

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Even this light organic corn syrup (pictured above) has 31grams of carbs in two tablespoons, and 130 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women get no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar from any source, and that most men get no more than 150 calories a day of added sugar. That's about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

The Bud Light spokesman went on to say:” Some beers do use corn syrup and that’s fine. In fact, our value brands use corn syrup. We use corn syrup in these brands because it makes the beer less expensive to produce and is therefore offered at a more affordable price to consumers”.

That statement leaves us even more confused. As rare beer drinkers, we are confused or “corn fused”.  Next time, we will definitely ask: “does this beer have corn syrup?”  Will you ?

The Origins of Personal Branding: My Journey in Identifying "ME" Brand!

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Recently, I published our (Ron’s and mine) definition for Peace of Mind.  One of the commenter's agreed with the general principles of the definition, but this individual had their own ideas also.  My reply was “That is wonderful, we are different.”  Another commenter said, “thought provoking it did not fit the definition of ‘me.”  They were glad that "our ideals were flexible."  

I replied,: “this explains why we our passion is branding.  We have learned that every living being is distinctly different, and we love emphasizing that distinct difference in a brand.  And we all have a common way of communicating which helps us to be friends and appreciate the differences.”

This exchange of comments has inspired this post.  Most people find it hard to understand the concept of brand and branding strategy. Perhaps, it is because we are born branded as “boy” or “girl”.  We are given names, first, middle, and last name. Some of us don’t have middle names. All brands have names.  There are brand colors for both sexes.  We are given religions to follow by our parents, and we are given nationalities also. We are also influenced by parental wishes such as “following in their mother’s/or father’s footsteps.”   

Scholastically, we are branded.  There are personality tests, Intelligence tests, Aptitude tests, and all types of other tests to determine who we are and who we should be. At some point, we may wake up and try to find the “me” in all this, or we may be content that the “me” has been perfectly branded by our parents, as well as all the outside influences (schools, religions, peer pressure, etc.).

My aha moment came at an early age. My parents recalled a time when entertaining their friends, I was sitting listening to the conversation.  One of their friends said, “she is definitely French”, whereas another disagreed and said, “No, she is Russian”, and the third friend said, “she was born in Lebanon, and that makes her Lebanese!”  According to my father, I screamed, “NO, I am ME!”  

From that moment as I continued my discovery process of “me”. I was both a thorn in my parents’ side as well as a source of pride.

Branding & Marketing Moments: Do You Have A Nose For SPIN ?

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A good-looking brand identity supported with a brand story that does not ring true is not a guaranty for successfully marketing luxury real estate or any other real estate niche. A brand story needs to be congruent with the product, the marketplace, and the psychographics of the buyers and sellers.  Taking control of how you want to be perceived as a real estate marketing professional is known as SPIN in marketing.  Otherwise, it is what we would refer to as Swiss Cheese Marketing! You can see smell it and see through it!

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SPIN is an acronym for the following words: Sstands for situation (collect facts: noisy street, freeway nearby), P,stands for problem (identifying the problem-old home, desire for smaller home),I, stands for implication (higher costs of maintenance in an old home), and N,stands for need payoff/buying motive (value, importance or usefulness).  These are considered the 4 top sales/marketing questions that need to be answered to entice a prospect into buying a home.  These answers differ in each marketplace and solely depends on the psychographics of that marketplace—the attitude, aspirations and interests of those who live there. 

SPIN has a negative association also.  It is often used as a cover up for mistakes made by public figures and celebrities. An unflattering synonym for SPIN is propaganda, or what some would call a creative or deceptive use of facts in order to reflect favorably in a new venture or on a negative situation.  It can also imply that the person doing the spinning has not done their research in order to contain the effect.  

In a recent discussion (re: California problems) one of the attorneys in the group blamed the agricultural states for the problems we are having today.  It was obvious that this person (although a California native) did not know that California is largest producers of food in the United States, and the 5thlargest producer in the world.  It is also the number one dairy state, the first largest producer of wine in the US, and the fourth largest wine producer in the world.

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Pictured above is wine brand, which we both liked in terms of color and graphics.  We thought that it was very creative in its choice of color and presentation. Our wine expert friend called it a mistake! He cautioned us not to buy it, and not even to use as a marinade.  And that explains the bargain price from $14.99 to $2.99.  

In 2015, Motto Wine launched its brand of wine.   They hired winemaker, Reid Klei, who was the winemaker for Ste Michelle Wines Estates in Washington State for 10 years.  Here is his spin:

"We wanted to put a Washington spin on California wines, so we implemented the same approach we use for our Washington wines, but with California grapes," said Motto winemaker Reid Klei.  Our Story:  Our winemakers didn’t set out to push boundaries.  But they did.  They didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers.  But they did. So, they decided to embrace it and make it their motto, learn the rules so you can break them with style.  The result? Rich dark wine like none you have had before.”

Here is their introductory video that reinforces their brand story! 

Make sure that you are presenting yourself with a genuine SPIN, and not one that someone can smell or can see through, like a piece of Swiss cheese.!




The Importance of Commenting—"We Read to Know That We Are Not Alone”

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“We read to know that we are not alone” is a line from Shadowlands, a play by British writer William Nicholson, which was also made into a film. We would add that “we write to know that we are not alone.”

 

Why read a blog post you like, if you are not going to comment?  When you comment, you leave an impression for all to see which includes the writer, those who subscribe to the blog, and the public at large. Commenting is a way to engage in conversation with the author.  It is letting them know that they are not alone!

 

That conversation can lead to a discussion.  Discussions can often generate a new understanding for both the author and the commenter.  It can lead to a friendship.  The ones who read the comments also benefit from additional information that may in turn spark a desire to join the conversation.  Good conversations and discussions lead to intellectual satisfaction.  A post may inspire someone to write a related post.

 

Commenting is also a way to acknowledge and appreciate the writer’s time and effort in writing a post. The writer of the post has just given you a gift. It resonated with you. Just liking it is not enough.  It leaves the author wondering, what did you like? The least you can do say is “thank you.” Thank you, for that book recommendation, thank you for the information on this subject, thank you for the beautiful picture that made me smile. Here is a picture that may make you smile.  Or you may have a suggestion, here is a book I liked and would recommend you read, etc. 

 

Commenting is a feedback to the author, on the post and on the commenter. The author may choose to comment back if a question is asked. The author may be sparked by the comment into a further discussion.  And as the blog post catches the public’s eye, they learn so much about the author and the commenters. 

 

Do not forget, we read to know that we are not alone, and we write to know that we are not alone.  We are all in this together!

Branding Moment: Unforgettable Marketing, With Just A Few Words!

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One of the aspects of good branding is marketing the product or the service in such a way that it is unforgettable. This ad from the October Architectural Digest exemplifies this concept.  What you are seeing in this photo is trim that is used as a finishing detail on upholstery, pillows, bedspreads and drapery.  This also includes tassels.

We appreciated the trim pictured above transformed to look like desserts complete with smaller trim to look like cherries and raspberries on top. It was also presented on marble and placed in gold trimmed china.  Very little text was needed to get the message across: just the credit to the designer, Timothy Corrigan--An Elegant Indulgence For The Home, and the brand statement, Samuel & Sons Is Trim, with the URL.

Although, we are not in the market for trim, we took a look at the website and enjoyed seeing the variety of trim available.  If someone were to ask us for trim, we would know who to recommend, based on the elegance and creativity of this ad!

Branding Moments: Taboo Marketing!

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We noticed this point of sale display while shopping at the Santa Barbara Nordstrom's recently.  We watched shoppers go by, look, shake their heads and move on.  Others laughed at the double meaning, and moved on. 

Taboo marketing can definitely bring a brand into focus by those they are hoping to attract.  It creates an instant effect!  It will no doubt attract some to buy!  

We have seen taboo styled real estate videos and other ads.  The only message it may send to the sellers of these properties is that their agents will go to any length to bring attention to their listings...

What is your take on this?

Branding Moments: Finding The Perfect Brand Colors-A Case Study

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Many have asked how we come up with brand colors for our real estate clients and the companies we work with.We have a three part process.  The first is to give our client a comprehensive color test defining their favorite colors, the mood they want to convey, and the style of their practice.  The second involves the colors of their marketplace and the lifestyle.   And lastly, we combine all three into the brand.

Here is the case study.  Pictured above is the bark of a eucalyptus tree.  Note the myriad of colors and shades on the bark.  Since the target market lived among eucalyptus trees, this became our inspiration for color.

Our client's color preference were in the pastel family accented with a bright color.  Her market was a high end community with stately traditional homes.  The residents even named their eucalyptus trees.  Pictured above is the bark of a eucalyptus tree.

Together we selected the colors of the brand, and used a touch of orange (you can see it on the left lower side of the picture) and used it sparingly as an accent to the slate grey blue which became the main color.  This also is the color of the leaves on eucalyptus trees.

It was a perfect marriage of colors.  Every aspect of the luxury real estate marketplace was represented: our client, the market place and the lifestyle.

Wishing you a great weekend!

Branding Moment: Brand analysis (No Couch Needed)!

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If you are going to come up with a brand for your real estate marketing business, be sure that: 1.)It attracts your target market, 2.) It has a genuine differentiator like a niche or a specialty, 3) a good story behind it.

Ron and I happen to be a perfect target for the bottle of olive oil pictured above.  We often buy special olive oil for ourselves and for our "foodie" friends as gifts for birthdays, Christmas or Hanukkah.  We liked the bottle and the color of the label, however, we did not buy it.  Here is our reasoning.

The name "Bare" meant nothing to us.  Seeing that the olive oil originates from Portugal. I looked up the translation of "bare" from Portuguese to English.  What came up is "barge."The word "bare" is used as part of many URL's.

In English, the word "bare" is not one we would choose for a luxury product.   Wanting to be fair-minded, I found their beautiful website.  What the company means by "bare" is nothing added just the olives are in the bottle.  It mentioned their wonderful aged trees and the care they put into maintaining the quality.  This idea is no different for any fine olive oil.  One presses the olives and puts the oil in a bottle.

The words "gluten free" also made no sense to me.  Olives have no gluten, and olive presses are made solely to press olives.When we lived in Northern California's wine country, we visited the Community Olive Pressin Sonoma County that presses olive oil for wine country residents at .75 cents per pound.   No gluten ever touched that press, which was the insinuation that the site made, when it came to differentiate themselves from the olive oil competition.  

It took us all of 5 seconds to decide not to buy this brand. It did not resonate with our standards. For the same price, we can purchase a bottle of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from one the finest Olive oil producers in Italy.

Use this as a basic guideline to take a moment and analyze why a service or a product appeals to you or does not.  It will help you understand the power of branding, and the importance of getting it right!  

You want your target market to say: “Yes, I want to list my home with this you! 

What Is in Your Half Empty or Half Full Glass: Nectar or Poison?

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We have always answered the age-old question: Is the glass half full or half empty, and we say: it depends on what is in the glass.  Is it Nectar or is it Poison? We love maintaining a positive mindset— drinking nectar.

The most successful luxury real estate and other real estate niche marketing professionals have developed a genuine positive mindset. As a result, they attract more clients (sellers and buyers).  One of the ladies we worked with a young 78- year-old was thriving during the worst of the recession unlike some of the other agents in her market.  She knew without a doubt that there is always an abundance of business regardless of the economy and its fluctuations. Another one of our clients had one of her highest all-time years during the same time period.  Neither one focused on short sales, they just repeated their well-honed formula consistently.

We both grin with great delight and take it as a compliment, when s­­­­­omeone critiques us as being “too” positive or unrealistic when it comes to our approach to life and people in general. Some will tell us that we are ignoring the world’s tragedies and proceed to enumerate them.  On the contrary, we are aware of them, we just do not choose to dwell on them, and we take comfort in the fact that there are many wonderful people working on these issues, which are outside of our sphere of influence.  

We steadfastly have maintained an optimistic approach going in the worst of times.  We even give ourselves permission to moan and groan for all of 5 minutes.  We know that we can choose, how we decide to approach or feel about any problematic or disastrous situation.  We can dwell and rue about it and engender sympathy, or we can find the positive aspect and find a way to make it work.  This mindset has given us strength and inspiration in the best of times and in the worst of times.

Two weeks ago, in our Qigong *(defined below) class our teacher demonstrated the power of the positive mindset.   Using a simple muscle strength test, he used to measure one of the participant’s strength.  Now, he had us (50 students) say aloud, to this man, that he has many problems. Afterwards, our teacher went over to him and checked his muscle strength. It had markedly diminished.  Then he had the audience say, he is a wonderful problem solver!  The muscle strength test improved beyond the initial measurement.   

The second part of this demonstration was to ask several members of the group to stand next to the man.  They too had their muscle strength assessed.  We all repeated the negative mantra.  What was revealing is that the onlookers also lost muscle strength in the process.  The action of sympathizing with his dilemma created a weakening of their strength as well as he weakening of strength of the audience.  We all repeated the positive mantra and everyone’s strength was improved.

Wishing someone harm, bitching and moaning, dwelling on negative aspects of the real estate profession, the government, the leadership, your city, your family, your clients, and so on and so forth reduces your problem-solving capacity and inspiration. It impacts your health, your relationships, and your effectiveness in business. It is a bona-fide form of self-destruction.  This quote illustrates this, “resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Ultimately, it is your choice!  What is in your glass nectar or poison?!

Qigong (pronounced "chee-gung," also spelled chi kung) is translated from the Chinese to mean "energy cultivation" or "working with the life energy." Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations. Its techniques are designed to improve and enhance the body's qi or( chi) . 

“In China, qigong is used n conjunction with other medical therapies for many chronic conditions, including allergies, AIDS, ,cancer, headaches, depression, mental illness ,strokes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma and obesity.”*,