Friday, March 29, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Celebrate the Luxury of Diversity

America is known at the melting pot where different cultures live and work together. As a luxury real estate marketing professional it is paramount that you understand and appreciate the nature of your clients’ backgrounds, including their countries of origins, their cultures and the holidays they celebrate.  This is a great time of the year to celebrate the luxury of diversity!

Springtime is a time for holiday and religious observations. Here are some of the holidays to be aware of this time of the year:

The month of March ends with the observance of the Christian celebration of Easter.  In some countries (Central, and South American} the whole week prior to Easter Sunday is known as Santa Semana (the holy week). Many observe the holiday during the entire week by not working and going to church. 

Nowruz, the Persian New Year begins on March 31st.  Nowruz is celebrated by the people of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kashmir, Azerbaijan, the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Syria and Georgia.

The  Jewish Passover began on the 26th and will be observed through April 2nd.  The Bahá'í Faith celebrates Ridvan (a twelve day period from April 21-May 2), signifying when Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed His Mission as God's Messenger for this age at a garden in Baghdad, which became known as the Garden of Ridván (Paradise).

This year, the Christian Orthodox faith celebrates its Easter on May 5th, as they follow the Julian calendar, instead of the universal Gregorian calendar.  One of the reasons the Christian Orthodox celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar is that Christ died after celebrating Passover, so it makes sense that their Easter would follow after that.

In our commercial real estate practice, we had clients of all faiths and cultures.  They were always delighted that we knew their holidays.  We were often invited to celebrate with them, learn their beliefs and taste their celebratory foods.  Personally, (Alexandra here), I had the luxury of celebrating 2 Easters as my mother was Roman Catholic and my father was Greek Orthodox, and the same was true of Christmas.  Ron and I also celebrated Passover with Jewish friends, and Nowruz with Iranian clients.

We wish everyone of every faith and culture a very happy celebration during this wonderful time of year.  Celebrate the luxury of diversity!
* The illustration above is known at the diversity tree of love.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Define Your POV (Point of View)Part 2

In part 1 of this article series, we discussed the importance of having a Point of View (POV) as a journalist via the media of your blog.  This is essential if you want to engage online readers and build a loyal audience of raving fans who are interested in what you are writing about, and are inspired to refer you, list with you, and buy from you. 

Your goal is to engage the attention of your target audience.  Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Think of all the online marketing that is vying for their attention.   Your audience is actually voting with their attention.  Why should they vote for you?

People give their attention to people and things that resonates with their values and with their personality.  That is why it is so important to have a distinct Point of View that amplifies your values and your personality. With a distinct POV that is clearly articulated your target audience will be able to discover that you are attention-worthy, faster.  With all of the competition for attention, this is now an imperative.

If you are a fan of seafood as we are, you have many choices as to where you buy your fish and shellfish. Every major supermarket chain has a seafood section and also sells frozen fish. 
Here in Santa Barbara, we are very fortunate to have local fisherman who sell their catch of the day at the harbor and also at our local Farmers Market (when conditions are favorable).   We also have a spectacular wholesale seafood distributor, Kanaloa, which sells local and imported seafood to restaurants and markets all over the country.

The quality and variety of Kanaloa’s fish is unparalleled in California.  Lucky for us they are open to the public as well.  But, what is their POV as a company?  Here is their mission statement that thoroughly resonates with us making them worthy of our attention, our customer loyalty and rave reviews: 
“Doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, for the right individual, for the right reason, with the right feeling…every time.”
Many luxury real estate marketing professionals and companies strive for excellence. But, few attain it consistently. Let Kanaloa be an inspiration to you. It certainly has inspired us.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: Define Your POV (Point of View)

James Dean, 1955 movie, Rebel Without a Cause*
The world of professional journalism and the media in general are two subjects that are mostly unfamiliar to luxury real estate marketing professionals.  Yet, to fully engage in and leverage the amazing marketing benefits of social media you need to know at least two fundamentals:
  1. Social media is really not all that different from traditional media such as radio, newspapers, magazines and TV
  2. Without a distinct “Point of View (POV)” you are dead in the water before you even begin
A media is just a vehicle through which you can deliver content of interest that is compelling to your target market.  What is bewildering to those engaged in marketing luxury real estate is the concept of building an audience of raving fans. Suddenly, this has become part of your job description if you want to leverage social media to the fullest!  Making the time to do this on top of your normal business routine, however, can give you a spectacular competitive advantage because you will stand out from the crowd. 

If you just consider the importance of one word, “SHARE”, you will understand the primary added value that social media has brought about and where its opportunity truly is.  When you publish genuine, original and compelling content, the very mechanics of social media can facilitate the process of putting word-of-mouth advertising on steroids for you. 

But, you might as well abandon the idea of becoming a publisher of content if your content is not original. More importantly, if you do not have a distinct and consistent POV, no one will pay attention to you over time and no one will share your content with others.

Take a look at The Food Networks’ hit reality show, The Next Food Star where the winner is awarded his or her own series on the Food Network.On the show, they strongly encourage the contestants to articulate their POV so they can build a fan base who eventually will vote for them.

The winner of season two was Guy Fieri who went on to star in Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives that now seems to be ubiquitous on the Network.  With a hip, rugged, down-to-earth personality he connects mightily with his target market as he showcases the best comfort food eateries in the country.  With his wild, spiked dyed white hair and pierced body parts, Guy has a very distinct POV. He also has a BBQ sauce (and other ancillary products) that is sold in markets throughout the USA.

Last season’s winner was Jason Wamer.  He defined his POV as "Rebel With a Culinary Cause".  Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, stated, “Jason’s zany ideas and quirkiness will ad a unique value to the Food Network”.  And, Giada De Laurentis, said, “Jason really knows who he is”.

As a luxury real estate marketing professional, have you defined your own POV (Point of View)?  This is one of the keys to developing your personal brand, which is exactly what we help our clients to do.

*The photo of James Dean is from the film "Giant"

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Tip: English vs. “Googlish”

Recently, we saw an article by a Forbes magazine writer titled, Is Blogging Dead?” and that got us thinking about how that question might apply to luxury real estate marketing.  Blogging has been around for some time now.  Has it already become passé?  We think blogging is alive and well providing you are blogging in English vs. “Googlish”. 

Blogging isn’t going anywhere any time soon because good journalism is and always will be an integral part of our human experience.  As long as people seek the opinion of experts in a given field and the Internet can instantly connect you to opinion leaders blogging in some form or another will always be relevant. 

The real question for you is: Do you know who your target market is, precisely? Is your target comprised of humans or robots? Are you speaking to your audience in their language? Are you provided compelling original content that is newsworthy, buzz-worthy and follow-worthy? Or, are you cramming a bunch of empty keyword phrases together that are repeated far too many times in order to court the Google robots?  If the latter is the case you must be blogging in “Googlish” not English. 

Sure, there are excellent benefits from being recognized by Google as an authority.  But, your page ranking will reflect that naturally. Google wants to match up the experts with those who seek their advice. They can sell more ads if they do this well. 

Advertisers are looking for eyeballs that are seeking quality content. You may have heard the expression, “Content is King”.  We say, ORIGINAL content is still king” because that is what builds an audience and raving fans.  But, if your heart in not in your blog you are engaged in an activity that is a colossal waste of time, time that could be spent much more productively, like actually meeting new people who could become new referral sources for you.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Innovate, Innovate, Innovate!

In marketing luxury real estate, being a market leader is not always a picnic. Why? As a market leader, you are often the target of many challengers. Just look at the onslaught of competition that the icon brand, Apple, is now facing. 

Apple is known for consistently innovating, and introducing entirely new categories of products and services. The company became the market leader by creating brand new markets that did not even exist before. 

Along comes challenger, Samsung with an interesting brand strategy.  They recently spent over one-half billion dollars on advertising trying to convince consumers that Apple is now yesterday’s news with their smart phone slogan, “The next big thing is already here with The Galaxy S3 and even more recently, the S4. 

Essentially, Samsung’s strategy is to create the perception that Apple is no longer the cool, hip contemporary brand, “it once was”.  Instead, they want consumers to believe that Apple is now the more conservative heritage brand, not the edgy contemporary brand.   Apple used this very same strategy in their highly successful advertising campaign comparing Macs to PCs depicting Microsoft as the stogy heritage brand. 

But, one thing is for sure:  Apple is not going to sit on their laurels. Nor, should you if you are the incumbent market leader in your luxury real estate marketing practice.

Prior to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Blackberry enjoyed its stint as a market leader in smart phones (especially in corporate America) by combining the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) with secure email and some Internet browsing.  They were late to the table in adapting the touch screen and an operating system to support it, not to mention supporting an eco-system of app developers. 

Blackberry, is finally trying to catch up. Even CEO, Thorsten Heins, said that Apple’s iPhone is not the state-of-the-art  smart phone it once was. In fact, it’s starting to look a little dusty, according his Wall Street Journal interview.  Is this actually true?  Maybe it is not.  But, in our opinion, his remarks reflect a brand strategy of piggy-backing on Samsung’s attempt to dismiss the reigning market leader, Apple, as old. 

Blackberry discovered that if you do not keep pace with the speed of innovation, you could easily be replaced. But, this does not apply only to the world of high-tech.

On Melrose Avenue directly across the street from the Pacific Design Center is the architecturally contemporary home accessories showroom of Robert Kuo, (pictured above).  Originally, Kuo brought the magnificent art of cloisonné to America, but with a modern twist. He utilized the influences of Art Nouveau and Art Deco and introduced new shapes and finishes to this ancient art, which brought him notoriety.  His work can be seen in the National Museum of Taipei and in exclusive international hotels. Now, his sophisticated designs have taken organic forms.

So, let this be a lesson to those of you who are market leaders in your luxury real estate marketing practice.  Be complacent at your own risk. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance - Part 7

Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue -  Adjacent to Beverly Hills, CA

Stay on the Leading Edge - Don't  Sit on Your Laurels!

In this article series we explored an essential principle that can play a big role in adding value to luxury real estate personal and company branding.  Your provenance, which is your history, background, lineage, pedigree, or heritage, can contribute mightily to the story of your brand. It is where your brand “comes from”.   

If you are the market leader in your area, one of your core strengths in relationship to your closest competitors is your track record, which is a key component in establishing your provenance.  A strong track record is virtually irrefutable and it is intimidating to your challengers. 

With a strong track record, however, it is very easy for market leaders to become complacent. To sustain market leadership it is extremely important that you do not “sit on your laurels”.  You must stay current and relevant.  You must keep innovating to stay on the leading edge ahead of your competition. 

In our strategic branding practice we work exclusively with those luxury real estate marketing professionals and companies who are bent on gaining or sustaining market leadership in their marketplace or a niche therein.  True brand strategy is a battle for mind-share and market share between incumbents and challengers.  Our clients take this seriously because, at this level, it is the lion’s share of business in their area or niche that is at stake. 

We coach our market leading clients to stay on the leading edge and not to sit on their laurels. We also help them to amplify the provenance of their brand story, by clearly displaying their formidable track records in their Gallery or Portfolio of Sold Homes on their web sites.  Just one look at their track records can be enough to instantly convince a home seller to list with them, and not even bother to investigate the competition.   

Here are two examples of how our market leading Santa Barbara clients communicate their provenance.  Linda Lorenzen Hughes is the market leader in the Hope Ranch area and Chris Palme is the market leader in the Santa Barbara Riviera niche. (Click on their names)

We hope you enjoyed our 7 Part  series on the added value of provenance.  If you are a market leader in your area of expertise or you are serious about challenging the incumbent, check out our track record (Client Testimonials) and contact us.

View the Entire Series: The Added Value of Provenance
Part 1 l  Part 2  l  Part 3 l  Part 4  l  Part 5  l  Part 6  l Part 7

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance-Part 6

Morgan's at the desert - La Quinta Resort and Club
Great luxury real estate personal and company branding is all about telling a great story that engages your target market, establishing trust by building credibility and sparks word-of-mouth advertising. High net worth consumers are interested in knowing about your history, your roots; they want to know about your provenance.  Here is a story within a story, within a story about personal and company branding that exemplifies the added value of provenance. 

Recently, we had the privilege of staying at one of the most storied California hotels, La Quinta Resort & Club, the longest running resort in the Palm Springs area. It originally opened in 1926 as a quiet hideaway for the Hollywood elite – including film legends Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Frank Capra and Clark Gable; and today is a host to a number of other celebrities.  During our stay many of the world’s top tennis celebrities were there for the ATP Tournament, which took place in the adjacent town of Indian Wells. 

When we booked our stay we had the choice between La Quinta Resort & Club and the Hyatt Indian Wells Resort & Spa.  Both have golf courses, a spa, and a signature restaurant.  Both  are in the same price range. The Hyatt, a multi-story building with a giant pool, has a very contemporary, austere design. In our opinion, it lacks charm, warmth and character.  La Quinta Resort is a legendary getaway with unattached Mediterranean style haciendas (no more than two stories). It has 41 individual smaller pools, each with hot pools with water jets, this, in addition to a large pool adjacent to the spa and tennis stadium. 

Although, La Quinta Resort & Club retains its own brand identity, it is one of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, now a sub-brand of Hilton Hotels. The original Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York was the first hotel to offer room service, which changed the industry completely. It was also influential in advancing the status of women, who were admitted singly without escorts.  Can you get the sense of La Quinta’s provenance and the added value that a heritage brand can provide? 

People can have provenance, too. And, that is one reason why personal branding is so important.  As a luxury real estate marketing professional, you must clearly let your target market know what you stand for so they can quickly assess if you are a match to their personal values. 

During our stay, we dined at the signature restaurants of both La Quinta Resort and Club (Morgan’s in the desert) and at the Hyatt Resort and Spa (Lantana). The food at both restaurants was excellent.  But, Morgan’s, (magnificently remodeled to reflect its history), offered a remarkable dining experience with exceptional service and a menu that was masterminded by a celebrity chef. 
Chef Jimmy Schmidt 

Chef Jimmy Schmidt is a one-man-brand who has his own provenance. In 1977 he became executive chef and executive general manager of the London Chop House in Detroit, where he became one of the first chefs to win Cook’s magazine’s 50 Leaders in American Food and Wine Awards (which was later renamed the James Beard Awards). He then moved to Denver in 1985 to open his first Rattlesnake Club, for which he was nominated for the James Beard “Best Chef Southwest” and “Best New Restaurant” Awards. 

Chef Schmidt is one of the pioneers of “Farm-to-Table” dining. He sources the best local products to create deliciously simple, rustic and healthful dishes at Morgan’s. We enjoyed his Pistachio Crusted Rack of Colorado Lamb immensely. 

The history, the physical setting, the architecture, the celebrity chef, the service and the ambiance all contribute to the personal and company branding stories of La Quinta Resort & Club. Watch for Part 7 of this article series where we showcase two market-leading luxury real estate professionals in Santa Barbara who have established their unique provenance as part of their personal brand story.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance-Part 5

Provenance, in the realm of luxury goods refers to where a product is sourced. That is, where it is designed and manufactured. As such, a product’s provenance can become a quality cue, an indicator of superior quality, that adds value in the minds of many luxury consumers who are willing to pay a premium for it. Interestingly, the actual difference in the quality of the product, due to its geographic origin, may be real or just a perception. As a luxury real estate marketing professional it is important to understand the role of provenance as a quality cue in personal and company branding.

In Part 4 of this article series on Provenance, we posed the question, “What happens when a luxury product from a world-class French heritage brand (See Part 3 for more background on heritage brands) is actually manufactured in China? Does that negate the added value of its provenance?  

Many high-end designers are manufacturing their luxury goods in China and other foreign countries to reduce costs and increase profits.  This does break the chain of provenance. So, the real question is who cares? If you hold stock in those companies and their bottom line is healthy, would you care? 

But, what do the actual consumers think about provenance? Based on a flurry of outrage in a French trade magazine, Canal Luxe,they seem to care quite a bit.  Here in the USA, the Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 5000 people on this topic of provenance as a quality cue.

Over 80 percent of U.S. consumers stated that they would be willing to pay more for products with  “Made in USA” labels than for those labeled “Made in China.” The reason most often expressed was apprehension about quality and wanting to keep jobs in the USA.  The big surprise was that the majority of Chinese consumers that were surveyed preferred goods made in the U.S. and were willing to pay between a 10-80 percent premium for specific products they were shown.

Which luxury consumers are most likely to care about provenance?  This brings us back to our previous article series in which we identified two kinds of luxury consumers:  The Self-Actualizers and the Status Seekers. (See our series, Luxury is a Soul Supplement). 

Status Seekers are less likely to care about provenance, as their priority value is to impress others. Self-Actualizers are more likely to care because they may feel that lower manufacturing costs should be passed along to them. They may be more skeptical about the actual quality of the goods. Or, they may feel more national pride about sourcing the products in their own country. Neither luxury consumer should be judged for their reasons to pay a premium for luxury goods with or without provenance.   

Provenance does not always equate to a higher price tag.  It always equates to an added value based on your personal mindset and that is actually what makes it a luxury.  
For many people in Los Angeles, their beer of choice is sourced right in their hometown by the microbrewery, Golden Road Brewery.  Tony Yanow and Meg Gill set out to create a range of craft beers that “reflect the way people live (and drink) in the dynamic melting pot is Los Angeles”.  Their story is another classic tale of how provenance adds value in in company branding.  But, how do you establish your own provenance in your personal luxury real estate branding? Watch for clues in Part 6! 
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance - Part 4

Ferrari Enzo - Italy -- Photo by Naiyyer
Provenance refers to a chain of ownership, a lineage, a pedigree, roots, or ancestry, i.e., where people, plants animals and things come from. Provenance can add a real or perceived value to what you are buying. In luxury real estate a home once owned by a celebrity or a home designed by a well-known architect or interior designer, can definitely command a premium price. The location, where something is sourced, is also an important component of provenance. 

To understand the added value of location, consider Chateau D’ Yquem from France.  It is known for being the finest sauterne wine in the world, often served with foie gras or as a desert wine. A wine connoisseur can distinguish the difference between their grapes, grown on only 457 acres, from the same Semillion grapes grown in the adjacent property. The terroir (the earth where the grapes are grown) and the micro climate make all the difference. 
he added value of location can be real or perceived. When you think of lobster, Maine lobster has an added value. Pacific (spiny) lobster is less expensive (but equally delicious in our opinion).  Vermont cheddar cheese and maple syrup usually commands a premium price. As a trend, farm to table dining provides an added value for those who appreciate supporting local produce growers. Pelligrino from Italy and Perrier from France have become two successful sparkling water brands in the USA. 
Many luxury brands use the location where their products are sourced to give their brands provenance. Here are some examples: Oxford (Men’s clothing-Chicago), Benefit Cosmetics (San Francisco), Loeb Shoes (London), DKNY (Donna Karan - New York), Ferrari (Italy) and Yves St. Laurent (Paris). 

Authenticating, the chain of ownership in purchasing a valuable piece of art or an antique or the lineage of a thoroughbred horse, or the terroir of a fine wine is a key component of the buying process. Because provenance can add value, real or perceived, it is mostly appreciated or required by those who can afford to pay the premium.  And, that is why it is such an important topic to understand as a luxury real estate marketing professional. 

But, what happens when a luxury product from a world-class French heritage brand (See Part 3 for more background on heritage brands) is actually manufactured in China? Does that negate the added value of its provenance? 

It was this question that inspired us to write this article series, The Added Value of Provenance, and also our previous series, Luxury is a Soul Supplement, where we explored an entirely new definition of luxury.  Stay tuned for Part 5 where we answer this question and tie the two series together.
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance-Part 3

In Part 2 of this series we discussed what to do If you wanted to challenge an established luxury real estate company with deep roots in your community, i.e., a company with traditional values, a heritage brand with provenance (a brand story rich in history).  But, what if your competition is young and progressive.  How can you position yourself or your firm as just the opposite--a heritage brand with provenance? 

To recap, a brand position is the summation of what you or your company stands for.  Heritage brands stand for a history of traditional values and are often associated with the geographic location in which they were established which gives the brand provenance. 

The opposite of a heritage brand position would be contemporary brand.  In the product category of cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, MAC or Benefit are contemporary brands.  Guerlain, Lancôme and Christian Dior, are heritage brands with a provenance rooted in Paris.

Each brand position attracts a different target market because branding is all about matching the brand’s values with those who aspire to or embrace the same values.  The best brands are those who clearly articulate their brand position and do not try to be all things to all people.

Two global luxury real estate heritage brands are Sotheby’s and Christie's. They are both over 200 year-old auction houses established in England. Like the antiques and painting that they auction the companies themselves have provenance.  These brands provide a historical, international context for their respective real estate businesses, which adds to their value proposition. What they do not have is the provenance of a local independent firm, which can be a competitive advantage if positioned effectively. 

Creating a new heritage brand with provenance can be challenging. But, here is an example of a luxury denim jeans company that pulled this off brilliantly.

Do we really need another jeans company?  Nordstrom’s carries dozens of jeans brands; Macy’s seems to carry even more brands.  Just about every major clothing designer has a jeans line.  How can one startup company hope to differentiate itself in a sea of fierce competition?  Perhaps, these are questions you have asked of yourself as a luxury real estate marketing professional.

Imogene + Willie, in Nashville, Tennessee was founded in this millennium by the husband and wife team of Matt & Carrie Eddmenson.  They source raw selvedge denim that is woven on the antique shuttle looms of North Carolina’s iconic Cone Mills. Their classic style jeans are sold out of a retrofitted gas station and also online.  Prices begin at $225.

Their story is endearing, genuine, wholesome and authentic.  The Eddmensons explain how their grandparents on both sides of the family infused them with love and genuine traditional values, values that give them a foundation of heritage, lineage and thus, provenance.  They hired people who also match their values and their vision for producing the best fitting jeans, custom tailored to fit you, perfectly. They pass along these traditional values in every pair they sell. 

If you have the time to read their story and watch their video you may just be inspired to hop on a plane and have your next pair of jeans custom fitted by these two in Nashville. If you value the richness of stories like theirs, a true piece of Americana, and the luxury of owning jeans that were hand made for you in the USA you will understand why provenance is so important to luxury real estate personal and company branding.

Watch for Provenance, Part 4, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance-Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our article series on provenance. In Part 1, we established that provenance comes from the French provenir, "to come from", referring to the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. Here we will discuss how provenance can also become an added value in luxury real estate personal and company branding.

Consumers like to do business with people and companies who are like themselves, those they feel they can trust.  Successful luxury real estate personal and company branding accelerates the speed of trust. It does so by succinctly and authentically communicating that your brand’s values and personality is a match to the values and personalities of your ideal clients or customers. 

To speed up the time it takes for consumers to recognize that your brand is a perfect match for them your brand messaging must clearly establish what you or your company stands for and how that position is sharply different from what your competitors stand for.  This is known as communicating your brand position.  If you were challenging a market leader the ideal brand position would be the polar opposite of your competitor’s brand position. 

Brands that have provenance are called heritage brands. Provenance establishes lineage, pedigree, i.e. roots.  It provides a history and a story that adds a traditional vs.. contemporary context to a brand making it more valuable in the mind of consumers who appreciate traditional values. 
Heritage brands communicate their sincerity, authenticity, wholesomeness, and caring. On one end of the spectrum of luxury heritage brands with provenance is See’s Candy that began in 1921 in Los Angeles.  Mary See symbolizes the old-fashioned values of homemade quality and friendly service. 

One the other end of this luxury spectrum is the gentrified brand, Hermès. This French firm, established in 1837 specializes in leather (traditionally, saddles and riding accoutrements), lifestyle accessories, perfumery and read-to-wear clothing.

A local independent real estate firm that has been around for some time could be considered a heritage brand with provenance. For those consumers who appreciate the local roots and traditional values of such a company this would be their brand of choice.

If you wanted to challenge this established company of this nature, you would want to position your firm as young and progressive vs. old and traditional.  As such, you would not need to waste your time or marketing dollars trying to win over traditional-minded consumers. Instead, you would focus on those whose values and personality resonates with your contemporary brand position.

But, what if your competition is young and progressive.  How can you position yourself or your firm as a heritage brand with provenance?  Stay tuned for Part 3 where we showcase a successful, high-end blue jeans company that has recently done just that.  If this company can stand out in an extremely over-crowded clothing category, there is hope for you to do the same, as a luxury real estate marketing professional or company.

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Personal & Company Branding: The Added Value of Provenance -Part 1

This is a new article series about a subject that is essential to understand if you want to thrive as a luxury real estate marketing professional: Provenance. The term provenance comes from the French provenir, "to come from", referring to the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. 

Provenance can play a key role in luxury real estate personal and company branding.  It also pertains to historic homes, art, antiques, manuscripts, vintage cars, boats, planes, and more. Gaining a deeper appreciation of this topic, which is important to many of your high net worth clients can give you a distinct competitive advantage. 

In Part 1, here, we lay the foundation for the topic of provenance in relationship to the location of origin.  In Part 2, we will explore how location of original can be used to your advantage in branding yourself or your luxury real estate marketing firm.

It’s March, Trader Joe"s is featuring this green Gouda (pictured above), as the “cheese of the month” or their "Spotlight Cheese". If it were any other time of the year, most likely, customers would not consider buying a green cheese.  But, this one, made with basil pesto, was a novelty.  

On the package it says, “Product of the Netherlands", which gave it an immediate provenance, a context of added value. Gouda (actually pronounced ‘how-da”) is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. The name Gouda refers to a number of cheeses produced according to the traditional Dutch method including the original Dutch variety. 

This added value of provenance based on location can become a highly successful branding strategy.  Watch for Part 2 where we will discuss this significant aspect of luxury real estate marketing.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Personal & Company Branding: Co Branding with the Color of the Year

Co-branding is a synergistic marketing arrangement between two or more brands. The idea is to act in cooperation in a way that combines the strength of the brands. It is also a way to differentiate products and services in a highly competitive marketplace.  Co-branding is an excellent strategy that can give you a competitive edge because most luxury real estate marketing professionals under utilize it. 

Here is an example that reflects a wonderful co-branding arrangement between Sephora  (a LVMH* company) specializing in selling beauty products) and Pantone, a 50-year-old company known for its universal color systems in graphic design (web and print), fabrics and more.

Sephora stores are like the cosmetic section of a department store. They carry a multitude of known brands.  Now they also want to market their own Sephora branded products. 

According to Pantone, Inc. they are “the provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. The PANTONE® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer”.

In our own work as luxury real estate brand strategists and website designers we communicate via Pantone colors with our clients, graphic designers, web designers and printers.  We give our clients a complete Pantone profile of their brand’s color theme.

Every year Pantone announces the Color of the Year.  For 2013, the color is Emerald Green (Pantone 17-5644).

The photo above shows an eye -popping display in the Sephora window displaying makeup they created using Pantone’s “Color of the Year”.  Pantone becomes an endorser brand giving additional credibility to Sephora’s new makeup line. Pantone benefits by expanding their influence, their product line and their consulting services into yet another industry:  cosmetics. 
Inside the store, in this picture, you can see that Sephora has developed an eye-shadow trio, mascara and an eye pencil in emerald green. Consumers can derive social currency because they are wearing the color of the year.

Think about ways in which you can co-brand with other non-competing businesses in your luxury real estate marketing practice. It is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

*LVMH -Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessey
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