Harald Steiner

CEO / European Real Estate Brand Institute



Valued partners, supporters and friends!

R E V I E W  –  I N S I G H T –  O U  T L O O K

An extraordinary year is drawing to a close: 2020 will most likely be remembered by us all as the historic year when Covid-19 struck the world. A year that became a real test of endurance for people and business leaders all around the world and that showed us how abruptly private and professional equilibrium can be disrupted, how vulnerable we are and how ill-prepared we are for real worst-case scenarios.

Nevertheless, 2020 has also revealed a number of positive things: That we are adaptable and solution-oriented and that sticking your head in the sand is not an option if you want to both survive a crisis and emerge stronger from it.

With this in mind, I would like to recap 2020 from a constructive viewpoint. Because this year has made us stronger and more creative than ever. It has shown us that, especially in difficult times, entrepreneurs and brands can become sustainable winners if they remain visible to their employees, customers, partners and stakeholders. If they know how to interpret the signs of the times correctly and succeed in moving forward both courageously and strategically.


2020: REVIEW

2020 was a busy year for the European Real Estate Brand Institute.

  • We published the seventh annual edition of the Real Estate Brand Book. More data than ever before were empirically collected and analysed in brand value models, which provided deep insights into the brand management strategies of key players and created meaningful, actionable rankings to achieve transparency in the positioning of brands in the European real estate market.
  • On 28 May 2020, the REAL ESTATE BRAND AWARDs 2020 were presented as part of the largest livestream AWARD ceremony in the real estate industry. We responded to the unique challenges of Covid-19 by launching the Real Estate Brand Channel, a digital channel that creates a platform for presenting studies and webinars.
  • For the 2021 awards, we have introduced two new categories, Best Brand Management and Strongest Brand Campaign, to showcase the strongest brand campaigns. We have also assembled a top-class jury consisting of experts in the fields of media, creation, strategy and public relations, who will be joined by specialists in HR, sustainability and digitalisation to ensure a sound evaluation.
  • July saw the launch of MARKE STEINER. The Real Estate Brand Blog. To date, 14 blogs have been published, one every two weeks, allowing me to share my insights and views on brand management and corporate development with you on a personal level. And I have also been offering you my thoughts via podcasts, and in the coming year with a new series of vlogs. I would also like to encourage you to post your thoughts and responses in the readers’ comments section. Communication should never be a one-way street and a lively exchange and competition of ideas is very important to me. (



2020 was a year of insight for all of us.

109,000 industry professionals from 45 European markets, whose opinions we sought and evaluated as part of the Real Estate Brand Value Study, cannot be wrong! Three topics dominate the real estate industry and will continue to shape the future: Sustainability/ESG, Employer Branding/Human Resources and Digital Marketing Leadership. Reason enough for us at the European Real Estate Brand Institute, together with our partners, to explore these key topics with a series of 2020 Special Studies. Allow me to briefly present some of the key findings to you:

  • Research Study Employer Branding (in cooperation with Berlin School of Economics and Law, HWR Berlin, Prof. Dr. Carsten Baumgarth, with the kind support of DZHYP):
    • Both before, during and after the current pandemic, attracting the best talent was and remains a key challenge. This is especially true for the real estate industry, which employs around three million people in Germany, but is somewhat invisible outside the real estate sector. We conducted two online surveys, one dealing with real estate companies’ employer branding and the other analysing the perception of real estate as a sector from a student and (young) professional perspective. The research phase has been completed and the data are currently being evaluated.
    • Initial findings, which were also obtained from surveys conducted as part of the Real Estate Brand Value Study 2020, reveal that 1) successful employer branding is the answer to the shortage of skilled workers and the increasingly difficult search for qualified employees, and 2) the creation and positioning of an attractive and strong employer brand is a decisive competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent.
  • Digital Marketing Leadership in the real estate industry (in cooperation with Berlin School of Economics and Law, HWR Berlin, Prof. Dr. Carsten Baumgarth, with the kind support of KPMG):
    • Marketing managers within the real estate industry regard digitalisation as an opportunity, but the digital mindset (willingness to experiment, risk and error culture, data and performance orientation) needs to improve.
    • Personnel is a key weakness in the context of digital marketing leadership. Digitalisation skills, such as data science, modern project management, data affinity and analytical skills, digital affinity and IT expertise are clear deficits. Sustained investments in constantly upgrading employees’ competences, as well as new requirement profiles for recruiters, are urgently needed.
    • Marketing departments with a very high Digital Marketing Leadership Index achieve a 45% improvement in the marketing department’s C-level position and a 27% improvement in market performance compared to departments with a very low Digital Marketing Leadership Index.
    • The current coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased the level of digitalisation of marketing departments in the real estate industry.
  • Research Project Sustainability (in cooperation with the Society of Property Researchers – gif)
    • The implementation of sustainability-related criteria in business models is emerging as a vital issue in the real estate world.
    • ESG has arrived on the institutional investment scene and has become a global megatrend. ESG criteria need to be integrated into operational processes and corporate strategies. Investors and companies that do not actively embrace ESG integration today will face difficulties in the future.
    • Companies that integrate ESG into their corporate strategies at an early stage in the current market shift can enjoy a key added value. Incorporating ESG helps to reduce investment risk.



2021 will be a year of ground-breaking, data-based decisions.

The economy is dynamic and alive, and those who want to survive must change. Never before has this been so clear as in the Covid-19 year of 2020. In this context, disruption has evolved from an academic buzzword to a red-hot expression of reality. But what does it mean? As far as the dominant drivers in the industry are concerned, our findings are clear: The key changes that real estate companies urgently need to initiate are all related to sustainability/ESG, employer branding and digital brand management. Those who do not face up to these key areas will find themselves in serious trouble sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, those who constantly and critically compare their self-perception with the perception of others in these core fields will have the chance to position themselves and their brands successfully in the long term. This requires precise market knowledge, an understanding of dynamic processes and their consequences, the detailed observation of trends and a visionary view into an indefinite future. The basis for all of this is the scientific collection and evaluation of data in order to bring hypotheses and forecasts into alignment – as we have been doing at the European Real Estate Brand Institute for many years with regard to the real estate industry and the brand value of stakeholders.

For everyone at the European Real Estate Brand Institute, it is only logical and consistent that we dedicate the Real Estate Brand Value Study 2021 to the topic “Disruption meets Resilience“. In January 2021, we will begin to evaluate the impact of resilience on real estate brands. We are planning a special study on this very topic in cooperation with HWR Berlin and a follow-up study on ESG with gif and Prof. Dr. Thomas Beyerle.

Finally, on behalf of our entire team, I would like to express my gratitude for your interest in our work in 2020 and invite you to partner with us again in 2021 on all aspects of branding in the real estate industry. I wish you a relaxing holiday season to summon the strength and energy to face the new year together.

With branded regards
Your Harald Steiner 

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