Why Story Is Coldwell Banker’s Biggest Brand Asset


March 7, 2016

sean blankenship on brand

“People want to hang out with brands they like and trust. Those are the principles we were founded on in 1906.” As Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, it’s Sean Blankenship’s job to guide a brand going through one of the most disruptive periods in its 110 year industry with the help of 87,000 independent contractors as brand ambassadors. All of this provides challenges and opportunities I couldn’t wait to discuss more of this with Sean on this week’s On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Sean Blankenship

Sean Blankenship is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker Real Estate. He joined Coldwell Banker in June 2013 with nearly 20 years of marketing experience. A “digital native” with a wide-array of branding and product experience including Gulf States Toyota, Nissan North America, Inc., and noted digital agency iCrossing, Blankenship is responsible for developing and growing the Coldwell Banker global brand architecture, including the luxury home program Coldwell Banker Previews International®. Blankenship’s focus is on transforming the business through innovation and a consumer-centric marketing platform, which includes advertising, media, public relations, product development, promotions and marketing communications.

Blankenship is a graduate of California State University at Fullerton and earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. He is a licensed REALTOR®.

Episode Highlights

Why is branding the most important thing we do? “It’s the reason people like or dislike each other. At it’s core, that’s what branding is all about.” Creating meaning and building trust. Those are the principles Coldwell Banker was founded on in 1906. The venerable brand celebrates their 110th anniversary this August.

How do you build a brand with 87,000 different brokers/brand ambassadors? “It’s challenging. We don’t tell them how to run their businesses but we do give them a system — a brand — so they can focus on building their image at the local level.”

What part of the Coldwell Banker brand architecture is most import? “Story. When you don’t make a product, everyone has to be able to articulate your brand value — the ‘why.’ People today are so quick to jump to the ‘what.’ Our story is our most prized asset.” How does Blankenship share this with Coldwell Banker’s 87,000 brokers? They have collateral but they’re also in the process of relaunching their 80-page brand storybook this spring.

Fun fact: Sean is a REALTOR® himself. “It’s important to understand the value chain from end to end. You have to know how the brand works at every stop.”

“Some people think a brand is the logo or the banners. No — it’s the people, tools, and services. There’s no greater way to experience a brand than to meet the people.” While the Internet may have created a listings distribution system that “looks like a spider web,” it also allows people to explore and connect with properties and personalities.

What brand has made Sean smile recently? He gave us a few to chose from! Omega watches (because of where it’s been and who’s worn it), Fry Boots, and Patagonia because of their mission focus. “I guess I’m a sucker for culture and heritage.”

To learn more and connect, follow Sean on Twitter and check out the Coldwell Banker blog.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
This past week I was a guest on former On Brand guest Park Howell’s podcast, The Business of Story. Thanks Park! Listen to the episode now.

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!

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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.




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