What’s Your BQ? 5 Steps to a Strong Brand



Branding is so much more than a fancy logo or catchy tagline, says Sandra Sellani, author of What’s Your BQ? (W Business Books, 2007). It’s the ability to get into your clients hearts and minds, rise above the competition, and get customers to want to pay more for your services. Find out if your brand makes the cut with Sellani’s 40-question BQ (Brand Quotient) Test, included in her book and online. Don’t worry about a low score. The rest of Sellani’s book is devoted to branding worksheets and case studies of 35 exemplary companies. Buy this Book


Big budget or small, you can build a brand. Author Sandra Sellani offers some of the following tips in her book:

1. What’s your story? Having a memorable story can keep your brand in prospects’ minds. To find your story, list all of the ways you’re different from your competitors. Ask yourself: What am I doing that’s so unique? Who are my clients? Why do people use my services? Use your responses as the basis for all of your marketing materials, from your Web site to your listing presentation materials.

2. Focus your message. Summarize your story in one line — a catchy word or phrase — to provide clarity and gain immediate recognition. But before you debut your new message, hold a focus group to gather input. Be sure to have someone else moderate the focus group so you’ll receive honest feedback. Once you’ve considered outsiders’ opinions and tweaked the message, you’re ready to use your tagline or slogan everywhere.

3. Be consistent. Don’t change your tagline or marketing message because you’re bored with it. Remember, repetition cuts through clutter. Customers want to know that a brand is consistent and reliable. Also, make sure the appearance of your marketing materials is consistent: Do your ads, mailers, and Web site look like they came from the same company? Do they use the same visuals and communicate the same messages?

4. Keep your promises. A brand is a promise, so be careful about what kinds of claims you make in your marketing materials. If you say that your company sells the most condos on the West side, you’d better be right. If not, your brand loses credibility.

5. Don’t compete with your brokerage. You don’t want to dilute your branding strategy by using a message that doesn’t jibe with your brokerage’s. Competing messages will only confuse prospects. Check with your brokerage’s marketing department before putting any personal branding plans into action.

Want more marketing tips? Check out this month’s REALTOR® Magazine, which spotlights marketing strategies to fit three different budgets, from $1,000 to $100,000-plus. Also, see how real estate marketing pieces stack up with consumers’ critiques.


“Every time I speak on branding, at least one member of the audience will approach me and say, ‘This branding stuff is great, but my business is different — I really don’t have a point of differentiation, I sell real estate …’ I always tell them that we all sell commodities. And, in fact, many of the world’s top brands are commodities with either real or perceived differentiators (such as Chiquita bananas or Dole pineapples). If these products can differentiate themselves, so can you! If you don’t think your product is different, neither will your clients and you will end up in ‘no brand’s land.’ And remember, perceived differences are just as powerful as actual differences.”


Sandra Sellani is an independent marketing consultant to business leaders and entrepreneurs. She’s the former vice president of marketing for Sperry Van Ness International Inc., a commercial real estate firm.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Melissa Tracey

    How have you created a brand and set yourself apart from the competiton in your real estate career? Does anyone have some creative ideas to share?

  2. Book i just finished reading is called Sky’s the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan
    by Steven Gaines. It was an interesting read and i would recommend this book. i am sure the information applies especially where Real Estate prices, property owners, society and money are at play.

  3. Branding, we have been hearing it for years – keep reminding us, because if we aren’t differnt/special we are only the same. I am going to buy this one!