The Secret to Having a Real Estate Brand That Doesn’t Just Look Pretty

June 17, 2023


The first time I smelled a perfume and felt something actually captivating and visceral was as a 10-year-old in my Mom’s bathroom, watching her get ready for church.

FIRE & ICE. The signature “I’m actually getting myself put together to go OUT” scent of my mother. I remember how she threw her face back — eyes closed, little shake-shake of the head— to spritz her neck in applying it.

This was my Mom who, in my memory as I grew up, did not enjoy going out terribly much, nor was she one to overly primp or present.

But when I saw the bathroom head toss, smelled FIRE & ICE on her neck and wrists, it was a rare moment. So the scent become the same for me —

Rare and special, a little everyday-sacred. Worth savoring and I didn’t know why.

As a young adult I snuck into my Mom’s closet a few weeks before moving away from home; found her perfume bottle and wrote down the brand name. Feeling elegant and autonomous, I ordered my own bottle my first week on college campus.

$17 on Amazon.

Could just as easily have been $170, for all it did for me to hold and breathe in deeply, instantly drenched in warm musk, citrus and nostalgia.

I only ever spritzed it sparingly and exclusively. It became my moment-marker scent —

I wore it on my first date. Then with closest friends, sitting at a bar, as I celebrated a very personal milestone. Then at graduation.

A few years later, I carried FIRE & ICE in one hand and my wedding dress in the other, walking into the venue where I would be married.

A few years after that, I was sitting in a fancy bistro with my husband to celebrate our first pregnancy (Our baby girl Olivia, now three years old). I’d just taken a positive test the day before.

On my way out the door to our celebratory dinner, I reached for FIRE & ICE. My ritual aroma, the moment-marker.

The same bottle I’d bought as a fresh-faced college student still had plenty of perfume left, I’d applied so sparingly over those seven years since college, only for the moments that mattered.

The bistro was busy that evening. Joe and I were sharing an appetizer, and our new parent hopes + fears, at a table in the back.

I looked up and saw a woman from a nearby table sheepishly approaching ours.

“I’m so sorry to interrupt, BUT” — she took a step closer to me — “I caught a whiff as you walked by me earlier. Now I HAVE to know. What are you wearing!?”

Ummm, well, how to answer…

Juuuust the entire microcosm of my complicated relationship with my mother? My aspirational feminine identity wrapped in a frosted amber bottle? The symbolic scent of my every positive notable life transition as an adult? My very BEST EXOTIC SEXY SELF in my very best moments?

(In case you haven’t noticed, I often think how I write. Dramatically.)

I smiled back at the woman. “That’s so kind of you. It’s FIRE & ICE.”

But I said it like Rihanna wore it, too.

The woman did not leave until she had pulled out her phone, found the perfume online and added-to-cart. I was charmed.

Reminds me of an article I read in Allure Magazine once about the hit luxury perfume, Baccarat Rouge 540. (Which probably makes Fire & Ice smell like burning rubber, but WHATEVER, I’ll keep my $17 religion.)

When asked about the secret to 540’s unlikely rise and cult appeal, Frances Kurkdijan, the perfume’s creator, said this:

“When you say to someone, ‘I love your perfume, or ‘You smell good,’ it’s a way to tell them they are beautiful. There is something very rewarding about the fact that you are recognized by your smell. All of a sudden, your identity stands out. So when you find a perfume that puts you in the front line and highlights your personality? Then it’s bingo.”

What’s the point?

There’s something for you here.

Even in real estate…

Even as a business and brand that is still ever-evolving in a crowded marketplace of competing looks, sounds, and smells…

Your branding is identity.

Sure, like any great perfume, your brand looks and smells good on the shelf. It says you care about what you put out to the marketing world before you even step out the door, digitally or in print.

But more than that, “there’s something very rewarding about being recognized for your smell” — about your audience setting you apart.

The secret ingredient is how you make them FEEL.

FIRE & ICE…it’s warm and sweet, more spicy than floral. But I put it on, I’m not dissecting its notes. I’m relishing the feeling of being beautiful, different, and quietly sensual.

Your real estate service. It’s buying and selling, consulting and negotiating. But when your clients choose you, they’re not sizing up your task lists or even your skill sets as the priority. They’re relishing the results, and that FEELS like being listened to, cared for, sympathized with, attuned to.

When people stop seeing your brand visuals and messaging as separate from you, and they start falling in love with those communications as WHO you actually are, one and the same —

Then your brand has become an identity.

Then you’ve given your audience an identity, too.

It puts YOU on the marketplace front line, because it puts THEM on the front line first.

They feel their best and smartest selves standing there, happy they chose you over your Realtor competitors.

When a neighbor they respect says to them,

“Hey, didn’t you list your home with [insert your name]? Their marketing is SO well done” —

it’s a way to tell them they

made the right choice and are safe, and dignified,

with you.

Then it’s Fire & Ice.

“Then it’s bingo.”


P.S – What’s BLUEPRINT, again? 

We’re a gaggle of designers, writers, and creatives on a mission to change the branding narrative in real estate.

We offer a signature branding service and the industry’s most elegant and high-converting digital products to help modern, stylish Realtors do three things:

➝ Communicate their worth;

➝ Become the obvious choice;

➝ Tell the right stories to stand out + SELL more.

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