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Having worked for the likes of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate and Simon & Schuster, Heidi Dittloff brings 19 impressive years of experience to her role of vice president of Marketing for San Francisco-based Alain Pinel REALTORS®. Stepping into the position about a year-and-a-half ago provided Dittloff with not only the chance to switch coasts, but also the opportunity to rebrand a powerhouse firm for the future.

Dittloff’s overall goal for the rebranding, which is rolling out this quarter, is to “get the word out.”

“This is a big company that does $12 billion a year, but they are so quiet about it,” she explains. “Alain Pinel REALTORS® is such an interesting company…it changed the industry.”

With 38 offices spanning Northern California from Carmel to Lake Tahoe, Silicon Valley to Sonoma, as well as serving an international clientele, Alain Pinel REALTORS® is a founding member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®’s Luxury Portfolio. According to Dittloff, many of the regions the firm serves in the San Francisco Bay area are prone to high pricing and tight inventory, making for a competitive real estate environment. Dittloff’s mission is to make Alain Pinel stand above that competition.

Drawing upon strategies and resources that worked for her in the past, Dittloff’s plan for rebranding ranges from small details such as simplifying fonts to major changes like instituting a new CMA platform. She’s also turned her eye toward stepping up the merchandising of the firm’s branch offices with backlit LED window display systems from West Chester, Ohio-based Dee Sign.

“I started working with Dee Sign to increase the merchandising in our branch system,” Dittloff explains, “especially in areas where we have a more centralized location in a city or town. Our windows were really lacking good merchandising. Back East with Gloria Nilson, we had done a lot with window systems that worked well, and I didn’t see a lot of it out here.”

According to Dittloff, the backlit LED window displays from Dee Sign are easy to implement and make a big impact, particularly in certain areas. In Alain Pinel’s Alameda office, for example, the glare from the bright California sun darkened the windows. Once the LED displays were in place, however, the entire corner lit up. “Agents were so excited,” says Dittloff. “People were actually tapping on the windows.”

According to Dittloff, these are not your father’s real estate window displays. “These are the next generation of the regular signage that people have been putting in their windows for years, and they’re affordable,” Dittloff explains. “We can print out the sheets right in the office and update the templates every week.”

Dittloff believes the backlit LED window displays offer the perfect combination of high-touch and high-tech. “This is just something that displays beautifully and gives a really nice light to the window, and great exposure for the listings. The wire system is so easy to use and you can change up the template whenever you want—you can change up the sizes, do a poster size in the middle…get creative with it. For a reasonable cost, this merchandises our office fronts beautifully.”

The panels also provide important branding and consistency for Alain Pinel’s 38 offices, whether Dee Sign’s window displays or interior rack systems are used. As Dittloff says, “You know it’s Alain Pinel.”

And then there’s the exposure. “People love window shopping and have been doing it for years. The panels allow us to expose not just the properties in that one location, but properties in our other locations, because someone in Alameda might be interested in that house in Tahoe. It’s great advertising for our entire system.”

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Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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