To stand out in real estate, you need a strong, consistent, and unique brand that expresses who you are to the world. That’s why an important part of the process of defining and creating your brand identity is developing a brand book. Whether you’ve built or used one before or are completely new to the topic, we’re sharing why you need a brand book, what it should include, best practices for creating yours, and inspiring examples.
What’s a brand book?
Sometimes called brand guidelines, a brand book is a comprehensive guide to your brand. It defines your mission, values, and personality, details your visual identity and voice, and provides specific guidelines for implementing all of these. We’ll dive into the specifics of these brand book components a little later on.
Why creating a brand book is important for your real estate brand
Having a clear and consistent brand identity across all touchpoints is crucial for building brand awareness, improving brand positioning, and establishing trust with your target audience. Research shows that consistency increases a brand’s revenue by 23% on average.
A detailed, actionable brand book helps you maintain your brand identity consistently across all channels, including your website, social media, paid media, email marketing, and Google Business Profile. It gives you a reference point so that all of the content you create and put out into the world is on-brand and represents your business the way you want it to be represented.
It can also create clarity and alignment across teams, keeping everyone who comes into contact with your brand on the same page. Ideally, it will prevent team members or brand partners from going rogue and producing content that does not reflect your defined brand.
What to include in your real estate brand book
Creating a brand book from scratch may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what you want to include.
About your brand
To start, you’ll want to define these aspects of your brand:
Your mission expresses your purpose. It explains what you do today and
sometimes includes how and why you do it. It often starts with “To” and should generally be a concise statement.
Examples of company missions:
- Honest Tea: To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- Compass: Our mission is to help everyone find their place in the world.
- Google: Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Your vision details your goals and what you want to achieve in the future.
Like a mission statement, it often starts with “To” and is concise.
Examples of company vision statements:
- Amazon: To become Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.
- Southwest Airlines: To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.
- Luxury Presence: To offer tools that make it easier for you to focus on your clients.
Your values are what your business stands for and believes in. They are the shared principles that align your team and provide a gut check for every decision you make. Values also help you connect with your target audience and stand out from the competition. In a 2021 survey, 62% of consumers said that a brand’s values are important or very important to them, with 40% actively researching a brand’s values and practices.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your Unique Selling Proposition or USP is what makes you and your offer different from your competitors. It is what makes you unique and memorable to your target market and is a critical identifier for your brand. To learn more about how to discover and define yours, check out this post on creating a USP.
Your brand personality is a set of human traits and qualities that are unique to your brand. Yours might be down-to-earth, friendly, and playful. Or maybe your brand is polished, in the know, and aspirational. Whatever your brand personality, knowing it—and clearly defining it in your brand book—allows you to express yourself consistently and connect with your audience.
A brand promise expresses what your clients, prospects, and the world can expect from you with every interaction and experience. It is your commitment to consistently deliver what you say you will. This should be concise and to the point—one sentence or less. A great example is Geico’s brand promise: 15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
Products and services
Don’t overlook including specifics about the products and services you offer. Defining these makes it easy to communicate them to your target audience and provides a touchstone that helps you make decisions about taking on a new client or project. Naturally, your products and services may evolve over time, so it’s important to check back regularly and make sure your brand book reflects your current offerings.
To reach and connect with them effectively, you have to know who your ideal client is. To identify this group—including their pains, fears, dreams, and desires—it’s extremely useful to explore the PFDD framework. When you know your audience, you’re better able to reach them with the right message at the right time.
Next, it’s time to detail your visual identity. Here’s exactly what that entails:
The visual identity section of a brand book generally starts with the brand’s logo. In addition to including the logo itself, you’ll want to include guidelines for when, how, and where to use it. This should include dimensions for print and web, logo colors, and dos and don’ts. You might include downloadable logo assets in your brand book or in a supplemental style guide or press kit that is paired with it.
Some brands also have a secondary logo. For example, if your logo is a full wordmark of your brand name, you may have a shorter logo that is just a symbol or a letter, which can be useful for legibility. In this case, it’s important to include guidelines for when and where each logo is used.
The section about your color palette should include your primary and secondary colors. You’ll want to include their exact specifications, such as HEX #, RGB, CMYK, and Pantone Matching System (PMS). This ensures there are no guessing games and your brand colors are implemented consistently across assets. It is also useful to include approved color combinations. Some brands like to give their color fun names as part of the branding process, but this is totally optional.
Once you’ve found the font or fonts that feel right for your brand, you should detail how and where to use them. For example, you likely will have selected both a sans-serif and a serif font. Explain which should be used for headlines and which is meant for body copy, and if you should ever use bold, light, or italic versions.
Icons and illustrations
As part of the branding process, you may have developed icons and illustrations to use for your brand. Include them in your brand book with specific guidelines about what they mean, where to use them, and any instructions for developing additional icons or illustrations in the future.
Finally, include these editorial guidelines:
Voice and tone
Your brand voice is a key component of your brand personality, so you want to express it here clearly. This should include a definition of your voice, rules for implementing it, and examples of what you do and do not sound like.
It’s also helpful to include a section on the difference between voice and tone. While your voice is consistent, you may adapt your tone based on the audience and context. For example, you will likely lean into different elements of your personality when sending an email to a client who just sold their house for over asking vs. a client who is frustrated that their house hasn’t sold yet. Similarly, your tone in a short advertising message may be punchier than in a longer newsletter.
Visual style guide
As mentioned earlier, you may want to create an additional document with more details about implementing your visual guidelines, also known as a style guide. This can include downloadable assets like logos and font, specific rules for execution, and real-world examples.
A messaging playbook is an extremely useful resource that provides the exact language you want to use to describe your brand, your offerings, your team, and more. This may include taglines, slogans, descriptive language about your products and services, an About Us, leadership bios, headlines, and other specific copy that represents your brand. You can also include language and phrasing that you do not want associated with your brand. Your messaging playbook may be included as part of your brand book or provided as a supplemental document.
Expert brand book tips from the Luxury Presence Design Team
Our creative team has helped many real estate professionals capture their vision with a unique brand—and delivered expert brand books that help them implement those brands. Here are their top tips for developing a solid brand book.
Think beyond logos, colors, and fonts
“A great brand guidebook includes more than the dos and don’ts of your logo. Besides your visual assets, it should also include your brand’s personality, values, messaging, and tone of voice. This will ensure that the guide provides a clear roadmap for your decisions about your brand’s visual identity, messaging, and marketing efforts.”
Include real-world examples
“Use real-world scenarios to show how your brand is applied in different contexts. This is essential because it ensures that your brand is presented consistently and effectively across all channels and touchpoints.”
Know your verbal identity
“Set standards for how your brand is communicated, both visually and verbally. This includes the key messages and brand positioning that you want to communicate to your target audience.”
Examples of great brand books
Here are three great examples of brand books that creatively use their visual identity to express their product, personality, and purpose.
A great brand book should be easy to follow, comprehensive, and easily accessible for anyone looking to stay on brand. Unity’s brand book nails all three. Navigation on the left makes it easy to browse, and the detailed information and variety of applications make it easy to consistently apply the guidelines in the real world.
Glossier’s brand guide is a pleasure to read, with clear, concise instructions. There’s a strong emphasis on the importance of negative space and minimalistic use of the brand’s color palette, in keeping with Glossier’s identity as a “cool-girl” beauty brand. The guide’s use of branded photography is also engaging and inspiring.
Uber’s brand guidelines provide detailed instructions on how to use spacing in its logo and fonts, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a modern and minimalistic look through ample space. The book also includes detailed guidelines for using the app, as well as acceptable animations and brand imagery.
Get our free brand book checklist
To get rolling on a beautiful brand book of your own, we’ve created this handy checklist. Use it to ensure you’re including the most important elements that will help you present your brand consistently.
Bring your brand to life with Luxury Presence
Now that you’ve got the blueprint for a terrific brand book, it’s time to do the work to create yours. But there’s no need to go it alone. Luxury Presence has helped many of the world’s top agents establish their brands, and we can do the same for you. To develop a one-of-a-kind brand and website that set you apart from the competition, get started here.