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Branding vs. Personal Promotion [Dear Ginny WTH?]

dear ginny series

Dear Ginny WTH:

This is a note to self. After last week’s posting I thought it necessary to post a quick primer on personal promotion versus branding.

Some of you thought creating your own brand and using it within another brand was a good thing. I didn’t. I said that if you are proud of your brokerage affiliation and you affiliated with your broker in part due to their strong brand in the marketplace (among other important things that you considered), then you should embrace the brand. That doesn’t mean that you can’t establish yourself within the brand through your own personal promotion.

Brand is different than personal promotion…no matter who you are.

Brand is long and steady and permeates all that you do. Brand creates sense and feeling. It evokes and provokes. Brand starts with a vision. It paints a picture and tells a story without trying. That’s why those Hobbs-Herder personal logos of the past were so horrible. They tried way too hard.

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You know some of the great brands of today: Starbucks, Nike, Google. They all started with a powerful vision of what they wanted to be. They thoughtfully and strategically created a culture and drove that vision into everything they did and continued to do it consistently to create the powerful brands they have today.

What can you learn from that in creating your own brand? Whether you are on your own or with a brokerage, you should have a vision around the delivery of your services and a “brand” promise? How are you telling your story to your target audience? Does your story engage the audience? Does it resonate with them? Does it make you stand out? Do you take feedback? Are you consistent in the service that you give?

All of this is done through your personal promotions which are the activities of communication you broadcast to your target audience. These are the short term, quick shots that you use to attract attention to a specific service or product (like a house) to boost sales. This could be anything in the Ginny 360 degree wheel o’marketing, like ads, postcards, public relations, banner ads, blog posts, open houses, and the list goes on.

The brand of you has to be showing through all of what you are doing in the wheel. That starts with the source or media that you use. Source credibility influences how targeted receivers will evaluate and react to the message. Par example: if you have your face on the back of a grocery cart you automatically rank a big zero for a lot of people. And then again, it depends on the type of client you are trying to attract. Niche marketing is great, but you can’t be all things to all people.

The message itself can be strategic to reflect brand. Messages are made up of symbols that represent objects or experiences…that’s sort of deep isn’t it? Most symbols including words can have more than one meaning, so those selected for your message should be familiar to the intended receivers and should be arranged in a structure that is simple. What you say, the way it’s put together, can reflect positively or negatively.

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Check out these  real estate agent ads. Do you get a feel for their brand? As I am known to say: eeek!

Brand: Impression in the consumer’s mind of a brand’s total personality. Brand image is developed over time through promotional campaigns with a consistent theme, and is authenticated through the consumers’ direct experience.

Personal promotion: Specific combination of promotional methods such as print or broadcast advertising, direct marketing, personal selling, point of sale display, merchandising, etc.

According to

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Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.



  1. Brandie Young

    June 3, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    OMG those ads are LOL funny! “You’ll go Whee Whee Whee all the way home”. Are you kidding me? WTH!

    Great points. I’ve been called a brand nazi … Brand dilution through “creative tweaking” is a huge no no. I mean, ever seen a McDonald’s with green arches? If you did, would it seem right … or would you doubt the experience.

  2. Kari Battaglia

    June 4, 2009 at 9:04 am


    I loved the ads. Gives me some ideas. I have been to several real estate classes instructing us on the importance of developing your own brand. I have to say a lot of the real estate classes I have attended instructed us on the importance of developing your own brand and I have been struggling to do so. After reading your article I will be working on my personal promotion and not worry about branding.

    Kari A. Battaglia

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