Gold Jacket? Ummmm … maybe

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentThere’s been a major push this year for Century 21 agents to plunk down $150 and purchase their own gold jacket (assuming they weren’t with the company when the jackets were in vogue 15 years ago.) Aside from the fact that I loathe to buy any clothing at this stage, I’ve held off for one simple reason … I’m still unsure what the return will be for me.

Once upon a time, that gold jacket meant “real estate”. Then, for reasons unknown except to those who developed New Coke and threw Jack out the door from Jack in the Box, the jacket disappeared. From a company branding standpoint it was a terrible decision. As we have been told, market share has declined steadily since the jacket disappeared.

Is that attributable to the gold jacket alone? Of course not. Competition in the real estate industry has ramped up considerably in the intervening 15 years. But still …

So in comes the gold jacket, which no question is great for the company. But then I have to ask, what about me?

I chose Century 21 because of the name … people know it, people (usually) trust it, there is no doubt when you hear Century 21 that real estate is in the conversation. Will the gold jacket necessarily augment that link? Possibly … possibly not.

And from a branding standpoint, I have my own branding to worry about. Right now, it’s centered around the beagle. In time, my face my disappear altogether in favor of Tobey and Captain Morgan (and then I can wait to be accused of following Odysseus, even if Tobey predates him in the marketing chain.)

When I first started, I needed the security blanket of the Century 21 name to carry me through listing presentations when I had no track record of my own. Now? I still mention the cache of the brand, to be certain, but I spend far more time discussing my own record of success and my own marketing plan, not just what Century 21 can do for them.

Because at the end of the day there are 400+ Century 21 agents in my office. There are five (!) separate Century 21 franchises within 10 miles of my office – Metro Alliance, North Valley, Northwest and Sunland.

I still believe in the power of the name which is why I don’t move, even if the broker commission splits are a little greener on the other side of some fences.

But as for jumping on the branding bandwagon … show me the absolute return and then I’ll consider that 52 extra long in gold.

[tags]real estate marketing, Century 21, Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Kelley Koehler 10 years ago

    “…jackets were in vogue 15 years ago”

    Exactly. I think if I met someone in a gold jacket, yes, I’d get the C21 association, and then think to myself, “whoa, hello cheezy gold jacket dude.” it doesn’t scream young, hip, or current. although i might get some giggle-mileage out of it for a couple days. it’s like those ladies who build their entire brand on wearing a purple hat (or some such) every day. also – you gonna be wearing that coat mid-summer? will you be consistent?

    maybe if tobey wore the jacket…

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Tobey would look damn sexy in the jacket!

  • Apella 10 years ago

    Yep it really is about branding and time management or time when to market brands.

    This post points out the two biggy issues for broker chains and the NAR.

    No wonder they worry about the blog, I mean how do you put a gold jacket on a blog?

    Great Post!

    gold does go good with brown and white 🙂

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    As soon as the cast comes off Tobey’s leg (his other ACL surgery was Wednesday) we will see if there are coats his size.

    For the record, though, my broker and manager have never expressed concern about the blog. I know this theme has made the rounds the last couple of weeks but for the time being I’ve not had any problems.

  • Charles Woodall 10 years ago

    I have been considering purchasing a jacket as well and have held off for all the same reasons you have. I have been waiting to see if it catches on again.

    Good post!

  • Howard Arnoff 10 years ago

    Jonathan, this is great and I’ve got a little story for you. When I started in real estate, I interviewed with Prudential, ReMax, Agent Owned (a large Charleston independent) and Coldwell Banker.

    I intentionally did not interview with C21 because I worried that they might bring the jackets back one day and I didn’t want to have to wear one.

    Like you, in getting started in real estate, I went with the name brand of CB with a great broker and a top producing office and was with them for several years. After the founder of my agency passed away, I stayed for a couple of years while others left for greener pastures but eventually transferred my license a little over a year ago to a growing Charleston independent (Sandlapper Real Estate Group) because of their technology, branding and commitment to giving back to the community.

    The bottom line, you, Tobey and your blog are the brand, you don’t need to wear the coat and it’s too hot outside in Phoenix anyway.

  • Jeff Royce, RE/MAX Choice 10 years ago

    I used to think a lot like you, but I have changed my thinking the last couple of years. I assume you pay more than $150 each month to build the C21 brand name; I know I do with RE/MAX. Your business should benefit from that investment and the only way it will is if you identify yourself with the brand. I have been trying more and more to integrate the RE/MAX brand into my marketing for this reason.

    It probably makes no difference with past clients, maybe a little with referred clients, and a quite a bit when a client finds you via an ad or other ways where there is no personal connection. But I do try to use the brand when it will help; it definitely doesn’t hurt.

    But..the jacket is going overboard. You can integrate the brand in your marketing without it. You don’t want to look like the guy in this commercial:

  • Jay Thompson 10 years ago

    Jeff –

    Sure hope you never chose to leave RE/MAX…

  • SanDiegOh 10 years ago

    Congrats on winning the Carnival this week. Good luck with the jacket…it sounds like C21 is just looking for a way to make some extra cash during the slow season. Who wears gold jackets? Maybe you can get a cane and some boots too.

  • Francy 10 years ago

    Although the C21 logo on our website, many are surprised to learn that Jay and I are C21 agents. It appears that branding your name as a real estate agent who is ethical, knowledgeable, and who cares about their clients is far more important than the color of your jacket.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Charles – other than at convention I’ve not seen the jacket come back in vogue. If I want to make the connection I can do so with a like-colored golf shirt just as easily.

    Howard – sounds like my wife. She quit marching band after middle school because of Apollo High’s uniform. (Can you picture this in sports? Wait? You want me to wear a Washington Wizards uniform? Hell no!)

    Jeff – it could help, possibly, on some of the relocation appointments where I haven’t had any contact with the clients ahead of time. If they come through the blog, the mutt’s the hook.

    Don’t get me wrong … I’ll trade on the name if I think it’s of benefit. (I’d much rather do this than play the “I’m a REALTOR” card.) But I’m not convinced on the jacket right now. And, being the anti-authority wonk I am, the push on the internal website’s turning me off.

    SanDiegOh – it’s outsourced, so there’s no major profit coming outside of the licensing agreement.

    Francy – you’re with Century 21? 🙂

  • Benn 10 years ago

    Im not a c21 agent, but Im thinking of getting a gold jacket for fun 🙂

  • Thomas Johnson 10 years ago

    I mean how do you put a gold jacket on a blog?

    Apella: You put the jacket on the DOG, Not the BLOG! Jonathan- I am thinking Toby in gold lame’.

    BTW-Never trust your most valuable asset to someone who markets himself with a big bag of hot air.

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