Branding is a unique and creative way real estate firms can be able to identify themselves from others and share their values with the public. A strong brand presence helps you position yourself as a trusted firm, competent and able to deliver the expected services.
As Arthur Mukembo, the regional director, RE/MAX Uganda notes, Uganda’s real estate sector is largely unregulated, or where it is, sometimes the enforcement of regulations may not be as strong as should ideally be. This exposes the sector to incidents of unscrupulous people taking advantage of this laxity to defraud, mislead or deliver substandard work, among others.
The effect of this is that customers become unnecessarily apprehensive of dealing with players across the sector, especially with brokers and surveyors and so on whereas these unscrupulous individuals are the exception and not the norm. Successful brands navigate this by investing in brand building through continuous thought leadership, consistent customer experience, acquiring and maintaining locally and internationally recognised qualifications, instituting strict quality assurance protocols, obtaining professional indemnity insurance, among others. We should also underscore the importance of intentionally fostering a culture within your organisation that aligns with the value system you aspire to be known for in the marketplace.
Mukembo notes that successful real estate brands understand and leverage this to distinguish themselves especially in markets like Uganda where anyone, at least for now, can become a real estate agent, property manager or real estate developer.
One of the biggest elements of establishing a reputable real estate brand is of course finding a name. Your company name should be unique and easy to remember. Your name should define who you are and what you offer. Next, you should create a company logo that communicates effectively and is distinctive enough to set you apart.
“These essential elements build your reputation and consequently, referral pipeline,” says Mukembo.
Andrew Mutabaazi the director at Met Property Consults, recommends choosing a niche and tailor it to a specific market instead of offering everything. Real estate is as wide as it is competitive specialising in specific services gives you a better chance at succeeding. It is also important to choose those fields you realise are underserved and there is genuine need. Getting to know your target market allows you to shape a brand that addresses their specific needs in a language they can relate to.
He adds there should be real passion for the business. That passion will come through in everything you do, and your customers will appreciate and embrace the authenticity of your brand.
“Real estate is a people-driven business and they will respond to what you promise them. You should be passionate about that promise because it is who you are and what you believe in. It is the bedrock of your career or firm,” says Mutabaazi.
Mutabaazi reveal that consistency will make or break a brand. “You need to consistently deliver what you promise this builds your reputation in the industry. Make sure you uphold integrity and honesty in your service delivery day after day, week after week, year after year. This kind of consistence conveys the strength of your purpose and your stability. You show that you are serious in what you do and you respect the customer’s wishes,” he reveals.
Another important element of successful branding is investing in the human resource. Your human resource are your brand’s ambassadors, make sure they share the same values as your firm. Your employee’s reputation may open a few more doors, especially to prospective clients that have had a positive experience with them. Invest in employee training, mentorship and motivation it will all add value to your brand.
Mukembo suggests adding value to the industry which will give you an elevated position and value for your brand. “Some sectors of real estate are regulated, such as land, valuation and quantity surveying or architecture in which case your ability to demonstrate thought leadership is an essential distinguishing characteristic. Add competence, customer experience and consistency to this leadership quality and your brand will be powerful,” he says.
At the end of the day, building a brand is a challenging and continuous process but the rewards are worth it. I recommend being deliberate about it, owning up to your customers where you fail to deliver to the standard expected, and most importantly, deliberately setting out every day to manifest your brand promises in all that you do.