How to Brand Yourself
When You Still Work For Someone Else
How to utilize personal branding in order to stand out in your market, when you don’t own your own business…
Earlier this year, we were approached by Cathy Sturm, a local Indiana real-estate agent and home stager who knew that she had so much more to offer than her fellow realtors and wanted to find a way to help stand out and make a greater impact, all while still working for a major real-estate company.
This is a relatively common question that we get asked by many people in similar employment options; Mary Kay, Amway, Real-Estate, and other MLM businesses. While these people may not own the business they work for, it’s up to them to be successful, as they are the face of the business that their clients engage with. So creating a brand, unique to them, is critical when standing out and redefining the perspective people have on them and the way they conduct their business.
The great thing about these businesses is that they really do give you a lot of leg-room when it comes to branding yourself, apart from the primary brand. There are always rules, or guidelines when it comes to how you factor in the primary brand (style guides, and logo usage guidelines), but overall, you really can create a whole sub-brand around yourself and your team.
It all comes down to who you do business with. Knowing who your ideal clients are, what motivates them to do business with you, and how to create a culture, tone, mood, and atmosphere around yourself that will attract those kinds of people your way.
Cathy knew that she had so much more potential to redefine what it meant to be a real-estate agent and build long-term relationships with her clients beyond the final signatures after purchasing or selling a home.
Her goal was to become their “Real-estate agent for life.”
Someone they could turn to for homeowner tips and resources, home selling strategies and tools, interior design inspiration to turn a house into a home, and other host and homeowner lifestyle ideas to really create a life worth living within the four walls of a home, but beyond, into the community and neighborhoods that Cathy works in.
PHASE 1: RESEARCH AND CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
So we started with our SEO and Content Development specialist, Justin Farrell of White Hattery to sit with Cathy and research how the housing market functions online in her area of Indiana. They researched search terms, traffic patterns, and where the marketing opportunities were lacking that she could leverage her brand to make a larger impact.
This all occurred before we even looked at a moodboard or color palette. It was critical to understand not only why, but how we wanted to target Cathy’s ideal clients as we moved into her branding in order to create both a beautiful, but functional brand identity.
We knew we wanted something simple, clean, and traditional that would last or could easily be expanded on if Cathy ever were to separate from her Real-Estate company and branch out on her own.
- Traditional and timeless.
- Minimal, while unique. Homey and warm.
- Maximum growth opportunities.
- Fell within the rules and regulations of her current employer’s brand guidelines.
This gave us an excellent framework to work within when it came to building up the visual side of her brand.
PHASE 2: BRAND IDENTITY
PHASE 3: WEBSITE DESIGN
But a logo and branding were just one piece of the puzzle. After working with our Digital Marketing partners, we moved into the website design phase of the project, and build a custom WordPress website for Cathy that created a place where she could “house” all the “real-estate agent for life” parts of her business. From custom contact forms, home buying and selling creative process pages, and a blog for both homeowners and home sellers, she knew she had the perfect building blogs for an expandable brand and business.
PHASE 4: SOCIAL MEDIA
With the market research in hand, content curated, brand identity designed, and website built, Cathy knew there was one last piece of her puzzle that would really make her stand out. Social Media. Aside from the traditional Facebook Ads, or mini-mall posters and mass postcard flyers we all expect from realtors, she wanted to take advantage of other marketing options that were more cost-effective, and accessible by all her potential clients in the easiest format – social media.
We worked on designing easily updatable social media marketing templates for Pinterest and Instagram so that Cathy could create a branded presence on both those platforms.
Pinterest for home design, staging, and DIY home resources from selling your home, buying a home, and home repair tutorials. But even beyond that, we wanted to curate resources for holidays in your home, hosting events in your home, and one of our favorite things to do in our homes… cook.
Instagram is for announcements such as open houses, showings, new listing, and to help celebrate with her clients when a home is bought or sold. Showcasing the whole “behind the brand” process that Cathy uses to help her clients have a truly unique experience when working with her.
Not everyone is cut out to own their own business, while others may be, but don’t have the funding to do so without maintaining a second full-time job…
But that doesn’t mean you don’t “own” your own brand. People will always do business with people before they do business with a logo, or website, or social media… those are all tools for building relationships and creating trust and transparency or confidence in why you are the perfect person to meet your client’s needs. Keeping that goal in mind, you have endless opportunities for building up a brand around who you are, why you do what you do, how you do it differently than everyone else, and who you work with.
Think outside of your industry… Instead of looking at what others in your industry are doing, keep an eye out for what they aren’t doing too…
What does everyone do? What are the traditional expectations for your industry? (ex: Professional Headshots, nice business cards, marketing flyers, Facebook ads etc…)
What areas in your market are underutilized? (ex: Social Media on other platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, blogging, and easily accessible resources or information, community outreach like newsletters or volunteer opportunities etc…)
Where can you fill a void, or create an opportunity that others are missing out on? (ex: blogging, social media, fundraisers, educational opportunities…)
What other brands do your clients do business with and why? How can you utilize elements of those businesses into your brand? (ex: other local small businesses, restaurants, magazines or publications, department stores, music…)
How can you redefine the expectations people might have when doing business in your market? (only YOU can fill in the blank with your answer HERE)
Do you work for a bigger brand and know that through branding yourself you could make a bigger impact in your market and become more successful?
Or are you working for a bigger business and know that in the near future you want to break out on your own, and are looking to do some of the prep-work for such a transition now?
Reply to this email and let us know how we might be able to help you brand yourself and make that market impact you know you are capable of.
Here’s to you, our fellow small business owner! We may be small but we are fierce.
Julie & Steve