Building a brand is hard. In order to do it well, you need to learn from the best and apply a few benchmarked rules that branding experts swear on. Here’s a look at what I think are examples of the best real estate branding in 2018.
Brown Harris Stevens
Founded in 1873, luxury New York City brokerage Brown Harris Stevens’ branding has always been synonymous with luxury, exclusivity, and the level of white glove service that goes along with it.
The only problem was that the very idea of luxury has been morphing into something that outpaced BHS lovely, but dated branding.
Instead of stately limestone mansions or classic Pre War apartments with maze-like floorplans and elevator operators, luxury in today’s Manhattan includes 90 story high glass boxes, former manufacturing spaces in SOHO, and increasingly even bolder and more varied properties in Brooklyn, Queens, and beyond.
Taking such a well respected (and valuable) brand into the 21st Century required the tact and skill that only an experienced branding agency could pull off.
The new branding perfectly encapsulates the ethos of the brokerage (tenacity, service) and the elusive and often secretive world of high end New York City real estate.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Logo & Tagline
One of the most difficult challenges in branding is coming up with a logo and slogan that worm so well together that one immediately conjures up the other. The logo and slogan created for BHS is the platonic ideal of what a great logo/slogan combination should be.
The typography is deceptively simple and immediately brings to mind high-end professional services. It wouldn’t look out of place as a logo for a hedge fund or law firm.
Stacking the logo rescues the brand from the Achilles heel of versatile logos; length! As someone with an 18 letter long first and last name, I can definitely empathize here.
The slogan; Bold, Honest, Smart came from interviews with BHS’ management and agents and represents the unique qualities that set BHS agents apart from the 40,000 other agents in New York City.
Fitting those qualities into an acronym for the brokerage was an inspired stroke of genius. It acts almost like a mnemonic device to help people actually remember the slogan AND picture the logo.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Online Presence
Pairing the subtle light grey and bold orange accents for BHS’ logo and color theme translates perfectly to the online world. As you can see above, the colors work perfectly on the saturated high-resolution images of properties that lure in BHS’ clients.
The stacked logo and tagline are also very versatile and easy to place in many different layouts.
On pages with a lot of information on them, BHS’ branding calls for spare, minimal, layout that is easy on the eyes, and more importantly, easy to scan. Check out what they chose to highlight with the bold orange accent color.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Printed Materials
When you see BHS’ branding in print, the choice of bold, bright orange makes a lot more sense. Orange is the ideal color for a call to action, and as you can see above immediately draws your eye with bold, simple, easy to read typography (fonts).
The brochures are no exception with a grey, white and orange color theme.
Likewise for these business cards and stationery. The orange highlight color is swapped between the tagline and logo on the back and front of the cards.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Retail Building Signage
The outdoors is an even more challenging test for color themes and real estate branding.
The orange is a very eye-catching highlight color here for this white brick building, and the stacked logo on the sign and the initials on the door both look, well, perfect.
It looks hip and cool, but also high end.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Promotional Materials
BHS’s branding also translates perfectly to promotional materials as well. It looks on a bright orange tote bag.
It also looks great on everything from bags, to umbrellas, to pens, to calendars, or anything else high-end Realtors use as promotional materials.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Billboards
It looks great on billboards like in this mockup.
Once again, easy to read, easy to remember, and attractive.
Brown Harris Stevens’ Branding: Yard Signs
Most Creative Real Estate Rebrand: Halstead
Although they’re nowhere near as old as a brand like Brown Harris Stevens, New York City’s Halstead works in the same rarified luxury market that BHS does.
Their branding was also similarly stodgy, stilted, and dated. It might have looked cool and cutting edge in 1991, but today, well. See for yourself:
Halstead Branding: Logo & Slogan
Above you can see their old green brand mark, as well as the new bright bold, and creative brand mark, logo, as well as a quick glimpse of how it looks both alone and in print on business cards, stationery, and brochures.
It’s bold, brash and playful, but still manages to convey luxury. If anything this real estate branding might even be a few years ahead of the game.
I can imagine many more brands embracing this bold, colorful look to stand out in crowded markets
Halstead Branding: Color Themes for Different Markets
One of the coolest things is the use different bright, happy, colors to represent the different markets that Halstead works in. This is a great way to represent each of the many varied neighborhoods they work in without sacrificing the core branding.
Above, you can see how these colors work with the typography and taglines used for this campaign; “Move to What Moves You”, “Bold Moves for Bold People”, and “Getting You There”.
Halstead Branding: Printed Materials
As you might imagine, the “H” brand mark and logo looks amazing in print as well. Check out the envelope and folders above.
In this magazine spread, they’re using nothing but color, language, and typography to send a message and it comes in loud and clear. That’s what great real estate branding is all about.
Halstead Branding: Yard & Other Outdoor Signage
Where these bold colors truly pop is in the real world. There’s nothing quite like a pop of bright, happy color to draw in your eye on a crowded sidewalk.
Halstead Branding: Promotional Materials
The branding works for promotional materials. In a few years, this color and pattern will become synonymous with Halstead and high-end real estate.
Boldest Real Estate Rebranding: Century 21
When it comes to real estate, there is no brand that even comes close to Century 21’s brand recognition. For many people around the world, Century 21 is synonymous with real estate.
The problem was that as the brand grew into the globally dominant giant they are today, it got a bit diluted, and well, stagnated. The kept the same super 70’s logo seemingly for decades with almost no update.
Like the other two brands we crowned as the best real estate branding of 2018, Century 21 decided to not only change but use the same bold vision they did when inventing their brand in the 1970s.
That meant burning it down and building a new brand from the ashes and whatever traces of the old brand survived the fire.
Century 21 Branding: Logo
The new branding for Century 21 is bold and elegant but doesn’t necessarily banish them to the “luxury Realtor” space.
It’s easy to imagine this logo looking just as good on a $12 million mansion as it does on a starter home.
The brand mark is strong enough to stand on its own, and should one day become as widely recognizable as the logo itself.
They even created a fun pattern as Halstead did.
Century 21 Branding: Yard Signage
While they sure don’t pop with color as Halstead’s signs do, these yard signs look great.
Century 21 Branding: Outdoor Signage
The outdoor signs look great as well.
Century 21 Branding: Printed Materials
Going with the same gold and black color theme of their previous branding, they managed to take their printed material to the next level here. The logo, brand mark, and typography all work together here.
Their business cards also work perfectly.
Century 21 Branding: Promotional Materials
Tote bags have become synonymous with killer real estate branding in 2018 and these examples from Century 21 are ticking all the boxes. Elegant, not too pretentious, these are the kinds of tote bags you actually keep AND use.
As you can see from the amazing transformation of Century 21’s iconic branding, regularly auditing and assessing your brand as your company grows is crucial.