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5 Tips to Refresh Your Brand Before the New Year

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RISMEDIA, December 23, 2010—Real estate agents looking forward to 2011’s spring market likely have their game faces on, and have already started mapping out their strategy for mailers, local ads and websites. But have they overlooked their brand? February is no time to decide that the letterhead looks old, the website has the wrong logo and the competition’s printed materials are simply better. That time is now, and with the tips below and some affordable desktop publishing software, real estate companies can get their image right before their time is tight.

Dale Cook, product marketing manager for Serif, makers of powerful, easy-to-use desktop publishing, design and graphics software, offers the following tips to help real estate professionals refresh their brand for the New Year.

1. Create variations on your logo focusing on the most identifiable part—no matter what size and shape your logo takes, there will be times you will wish it was square, round, long or tall. It’s important to have a primary logo that you use whenever is reasonable, but these days it is equally important to have variations that indicate your brand while adjusting to the situation. In addition to alternate shapes, it’s smart to have versions that work on dark or light backgrounds.

2. Social media provides several great ways to reach your audience, and one of them is getting them familiar with your brand. Get to know the quirks of how, for example, Facebook handles your profile image or Twitter allows you to use a background image on your profile page. See how bigger brands are taking advantage of those opportunities and incorporate the ones that make sense for you. For example, the new Twitter layout leaves very little room to the left side that many companies used to make a statement or list contact information. What is most important for you to keep in that smaller space?

3. Celebrate events with ad-hoc logos, but don’t overdo it. If you have a noteworthy milestone coming up, like 10 years in the local market, feel free to add a “10” to your logo. Do not change your logo on a weekly or even monthly basis or it will become a distraction for you and your audience, but you should use your brand to not only identify yourself, but identify with the people you serve. It’s fun and easy to drop your logo into a desktop publishing program like PagePlusX5 and quickly add clip art that delivers the right message.

4. Notice trends in print pieces and digital design. Tastes change, as do ways you can stand out. Right now, hand-drawn artwork is becoming very popular in all formats, including TV, Web and print, because it conveys a sense of individuality, personal connection and expression. Once a trend runs its course, and especially if the trend outgrows the message it was intended to communicate, it’s a distraction with no real meaning. While you don’t want to be in the process of constant re-design, the New Year is a good time to take a fresh look at your letterhead, posters, newsletters and other materials to see if they stand out or fall flat. Consider why you chose every design element and if it still says what you meant. If you built your deigns in a desktop publishing program, you can likely go back and easily change individual elements without starting from scratch.

5. Play “where’s my brand.” Look around your spaces—three dimensional, printed and digital—and note the places where there are visual reminders of your brand. You don’t have to stick logos everywhere to create an immersive environment for your customers. Look for color, shapes and typography that reflect your brand and see where you can rework elements to be consistent.

For more information, visit www.serif.com.

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