Carving out a memorable personal brand in the competitive realm of real estate is no easy task. And doing so in New York City, the real estate capital of the world? Good luck.

Ryan Serhant, it would seem, has lots of luck. He’s not only a top-ranking NYC real estate broker, but also a celebrated author, successful entrepreneur, and beloved TV personality on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York.”

But really, luck has nothing to do with it. Ryan’s success is linked directly to his real estate expertise and savvy personal branding. How else could he conquer the NYC real estate realm by age 35?

Ryan attributes his success to thinking like a performer. Prior to entering the real estate industry in 2008, Ryan was a model and actor, and studied theater in college. “Being a real estate agent is similar to being in theatre: Memorizing scripts shifted into memorizing neighborhoods and data about buildings,” he says.

Of course, there’s more to his success than just that one strategy. Here, Ryan shares six personal branding secrets and tips, so others can benefit, too.   

Define Your Brand
To craft a stellar brand, you need to start with a thorough audit of your strengths. And in order to gain a 360-degree view, it’s equally important to understand how business colleagues and friends perceive you.  “Ask someone you trust to answer: Who am I? What do you know me for?” Ryan recommends. “You may be surprised at what this person may say. People used to know me as the guy with grey hair who talks really fast. It was good for me to know this so I can change.”

Ryan has come a long way since that initial grey-hair, fast-talking perception. Consider this recent testimonial on The Serhant Team website:  

“Ryan is bright, creative, confident and handles every aspect of the sale process in a high level, sophisticated manner. Unlike so many traditional NY realtors who are only too happy to take orders, Ryan thinks out of the box and makes things happen. As I see it, he is at the top of his game. Would I consider any other realtor for future projects? No way.”

The Power of ‘We’
No personal brand is built alone. Our colleagues can help define and amplify our brands — and we can do the same for them.

The Serhant Team consists of 60 agents and marketing staff, and Ryan encourages them to build both the Serhant brand and their own personal brand. Ryan says many sales agents started part-time and worked their way up the ranks to become star performers. “I really want every individual agent on my team to have that powerhouse brand,” he says. “One of my biggest joys is watching my team members go from renting $1,500-a-month apartments to selling a $7 million home.”

He leads by example in both his work ethic and how he brands himself. “My team gets the benefit of being able to work underneath me and getting the residual business that comes through and they also have the same tools and use of Serhant Media Group media team as me.”

Sell It Like Serhant
When you make teaching and helping others a core part of your personal brand, that positive energy comes full circle.

“Sell It Like Serhant” — a spin-off of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” — featured Ryan coaching sales people from various industries. “It was great for business and opened doors for the book and other brand extensions,” Ryan explains.

Ryan is particularly proud of his new online course “Sell It Like Serhant” which demonstrates how to employ his selling principles to achieve success — closing more deals, increasing profitability, time management, and more. “The online course changed my life,” Ryan says, noting it now has thousands and thousands of members and subscribers.  Ryan also recently launched media and entertainment company, Serhant Media Group (SMG), which allows him to have deeper content capabilities. 

All of this gave way to today, where the Serhant team has ranked as #1 Real Estate Sales Team in NYC for the third year in a row, and #3 in the Nation, by WSJ Real Trends. The team has sold over $1.6B in real estate in the last two years alone.

Broadcast That Personal Brand
Crafting a compelling brand is just the first step — then comes making noise.

With over 2 million social media followers, Ryan is an example of “broadcasting” at its best. He is a Forbes contributor, YouTube Vlogger, frequent speaker at industry associations, and a fixture in national media.

Ryan stresses that social media increases transparency and accessibility and instills confidence in one’s personal brand. Ryan excels at this, maintaining a fun, engaging voice across all communication channels. It’s edutainment at its best.  

Ryan also stresses being selective. After all, you can’t be everywhere, so select channels that are in sync with who you are and reach your audience. Communications does not work if you turn up the volume and walk away. Instead, you need a consistent drumbeat to achieve awareness.

Develop Content That’s Relevant (and Platform-Appropriate)
Ryan recognizes the importance of educating and entertaining his audience. Good is not enough — you need to create remarkable content to capture your audience. Whether you develop articles, blog posts or videos, make certain the content is shareable, engaging and actionable. Content is more than words; make use of striking visuals to engage readers. Take into account the recipient’s mindset: “What’s in it for me?” It is also important to be bold, share your point of view, and make industry predictions. 

“Serhant Media Group is a content resource for my entire team – they create all the content and the media for the properties and agents; Agent branding is super important”

Consistency is Key
Ryan notes that the content and messaging we produce doesn’t just have to be engaging — it also has to be consistent.

Research has shown consistent brands are approximately 20 percent more valuable than erratic brands.

“If you’re going to put yourself out there, you have to do it every day,” Ryan says. “It takes a lot of time and endurance to build a successful brand. It’s easy to quit and take a break. The hard thing to do is keep going when you think no one is paying attention.”

Ryan concludes by noting personal brands are more essential than ever in real estate, but also in just about every other industry. “Whatever the authentic self is, put it out to the universe. If you’re not screaming it from the rooftops, how is anyone going to know your brand and who you are?” Ryan asks.  He adds, “Build your own brand. Nobody cares what brokerage you work out of anymore.”

In other words, you take your brand with you wherever you go!



  • Stacey Ross Cohen

    CEO, Co-Communications and Personal Branding Expert

    An award-winning brand professional and TEDx speaker who earned her stripes on Madison Avenue and at major television networks before launching her own agency, Stacey specializes in finding, cultivating and perfecting both business and personal brands. She is CEO of Co-Communications , a full-service marketing communications agency headquartered in New York which has garnered numerous awards including Forbes Enterprise and PRSA Practitioner of the year. Stacey is a sought after speaker and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Crain’s, Sales & Marketing and a suite of other national media outlets. She is also co-founder of College Prime (, a company that provides social media and personal branding training to high school students to succeed with college admissions, internships, and beyond. Stacey holds a B.S. from Syracuse University, MBA from Fordham University and recently completed a certificate program in Media, Technology and Entertainment at NYU Leonard Stern School of Business.