Building a business can be difficult, but building a brand is even more complex. A business tends to be a rather anonymous entity to which clients feel little meaningful connection. For real estate agents, constructing a trusted, authoritative brand can mean the difference between sinking or swimming in today’s cutthroat real estate industry. Success requires not just dedication and long hours pounding the pavement (or manning the phones, as the case may be), but also a focus on storytelling so buyers and sellers understand who you are, what you’re offering, and why you stand head and shoulders above the rest.

1. Who Are You?

Can you describe yourself in a single sentence? What makes you special? What do you give clients that nobody else can? Answering these questions will help you design not just a killer pitch, but also a saleable outline of your key personality traits. Sellers and buyers frequently operate on tight timetables; they want to achieve their goals quickly, and they need someone who can meet that demand. A succinct yet authentic and impassioned introduction to you and your methodology serves as an entry point, establishing consumer confidence and providing a platform on which you can build a possible long-term relationship.

2. Be Seen and Heard: Using Visibility to Increase Your Listing Advance

Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber — aka “The Jills” — are a real estate team dominating their home turf in Miami-Dade County, Florida. They bill themselves as “the #1 agent team worldwide,” a tagline that wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t have the visibility and successes to match. One thing The Jills have capitalized on is their savvy outreach strategy, which incorporates everything from high-end real estate videos to promotional partnerships and speaking engagements. They take their message straight to the masses using a number of different avenues, and as a result, their names are already in people’s minds when potential clients decide to buy or sell.

3. Be a Resource Rather Than Concentrating on Your Commission Advance

Real estate is your profession, but that doesn’t mean you can be solely motivated by the size of your future listing advance. Redirect your energy toward becoming a font of knowledge from which your clients can draw all kinds of information. The best schools in the city? You know them. The hottest spots for happy hour? You have a list. Someone needs a landscaper, house painter, moving company or pool guy? You know them all, and you know who works when and where. Provide this kind of added value, and you’ll develop a reputation as an agent who cares about more than just the bottom line — and people love that.

4. Embrace Honesty Above All Else

False promises can destroy a reputation before you even see the Yelp review hit the web. Fibbing about a neighborhood’s demographics or stretching the truth about a home’s amenities isn’t just unethical, it’ll lead to negative word of mouth even if you do manage to close the sale. Instead of guaranteeing clients their dream home or spinning a dilapidated home as a trendy “fixer upper,” reassure clients that you’ll always paint a realistic picture, because that’s what people need to know. Platitudes may feel more comfortable, but the truth means so much more.

Great branding conveys not just what you do, but who you are. Rather than proclaiming your superiority through flashy ad copy and self-aggrandizing marketing campaigns, demonstrate your skill, and rely not on clichés but on the idea that the proof is in the pudding. Clients are smart. Be different, be genuine, and be consistent, and people will notice.