At Coldwell Banker Real Estate, our mission is all about leaving your mark. We want to empower our people to leave their mark on the world of real estate—and our mindset is to aim for the stars. Driven by a passion for progress and a hunger to push the limits of what’s possible, we view the real estate world through a different lens. We are a brand devoted to the service of our clients, the success of our network and the remarkable power of home.
We’ve certainly made an impression over the past 113 years, and we’ve led the charge with a lot of real estate “firsts.” We were the first real estate brand with a code of ethics. The ethics at our core led us to become the first to guarantee service in writing and prove our dedication to our clients. They also led us to create a one-of-a-kind website, develop innovative international real estate apps, and, most recently, change the world of real estate though artificial intelligence and big data with the CBx Technology Suite.
But what type of impression will we make for the next 100 years? Will we be a company that has gotten worse with age, or better with age? Will our mark fade, or will our recognition be stronger than ever? We want our brand to make an indelible impression on the world, and we have some exciting plans to get there. But to become a legend, you have to think like a legend.
Take for example one of the world’s favorite brands. A brand that has gotten better and stronger with age and never stops innovating. Apple.
Apple is an amazing company that makes people’s lives easier through the simplicity and brilliance of their technology, and the excellent way they conduct business day after day, year after year. They showcase how to become one of the greatest, most respected and most successful brands in the world today. In fact, over the past 10 years, Apple has consistently ranked as the first or second most valuable brand in the world. But did you know that Apple is now 42 years old? That’s right, the contemporary brand we know as Apple is actually middle-aged! While the Apple brand has been great for a very long time, it certainly ran into some bumps along the way.
Twenty years ago, Apple had slowed down to the point that it was near the brink of bankruptcy. But somehow it found a way, unlike most other brands, not just to survive, but to thrive. It’s managed to go from a good company to a global force. How’d they do it?
Apple knew its core values, and when it ran into difficult times, it re-established those core values. Some of their values include helping people make their lives easier, continued excellence and leading by example.
Finally, Apple got stronger by acclimating with the times and making necessary changes during key points along the way. Pivotal points in Apple’s history came when they invented things like the iMac, iTunes, the iPad, and, of course, the iPhone. But before all of these things became successful products, they did something else.
The Apple rainbow logo was famous—it was recognized as one of the five most iconic logos in the world, and 20 years ago, that was pivotal to the perception of the Apple brand. But in order to transform their image into a cutting-edge and sleek company, they needed a mark that better represented them. They changed their iconic logo from a rainbow to an Apple.
What would have happened had they not changed their mark? Would they be where they are today? Would the products have sold as well? Not a chance. Many people loved the old Apple logo. And diehard Apple fans certainly hated the very thought of changing it. But it was without question the right move. The incredible success of the brand today makes this inarguable.
Which brings us to OUR story, our core values, our ingenuity and our brand at Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Over the years, our team has worked tirelessly to help give our affiliated agents an advantage with the industry’s top technology and unmatched learning events like the Generation Blue Experience. We’ve crafted and shaped what our brand stands for by consistently creating the most effective advertising and marketing in the real estate industry. This isn’t just puffery. It’s real and indisputable. Real innovation, programs, leadership, expansion, community causes—and very real success.
According to Ace Metrix, we’ve had the highest-rated ads in real estate every year for the last seven years. Our 2017 ad remains the highest-rated real estate ad of all time, placing higher in likeability than ads from Ford, Apple, Google and Budweiser during that year’s Super Bowl.
In the luxury space, we’ve revamped what luxury means. The Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program is the cornerstone of luxury for the brand. The program plays a big part in the fact that affiliated agents conducted more than 30,000 million-dollar-plus home transactions last year—more than any other brand by a long shot. That level of excellence has translated into a 16 percent premium in average sales price compared to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) average.
Our agent-learning programs like AMP! Achieve Maximum Productivity deliver 35 percent more closed sides* for those that participate with the class. All of this leads to more people looking for Coldwell Banker affiliated agents—we’re the most visited real estate brand online for 2018, according to Comscore.
But how do we become stronger and better than ever before? How do we get even better with age like Apple did?
This past year, our marketing team was charged with clearly defining our core values and evaluating where we’ve been and where we want to go. Home. Awesomeness. Ingenuity. Excellence. Those values have always been a part of what the Coldwell Banker brand stands for.
Which leads us to our mark, our brand logo…and the thousands of questions we asked ourselves about it. What’s interesting is that the idea of changing the logo didn’t come from anyone on the marketing team, at the home office or even an ad agency. It came from our network.
During focus groups with brokers, we heard feedback that the logo was tired, it didn’t represent a brand that is modern and contemporary, and the real estate landscape had changed but our identity hadn’t. From our ads to our social media to our technology, we had all the qualifications to be attractive—but we needed a “new suit.” We’d redone the interior but left the outside of the house alone.
After talking with brokers from our top-performing markets and hearing their request for a change to the logo, we conducted an online survey with consumers to hear their thoughts on the mark. Their opinions confirmed those of our brokers: that the existing mark seemed “dated.” So we began a creative exploration of a new, refreshed mark.
Our thinking behind the new mark was to leverage the equity and familiarity of the existing mark while making the new one more stylish and conducive to today’s media landscape. The rectangular logo was 40 years old and especially ill-suited to the platforms where consumers today are most likely to see it. We wanted a new mark that would fit as easily on a yard sign as it would into today’s square mobile and social formats.
The Coldwell Banker logo has never had a distinctive visual icon attached to it, such as Nike’s famous swoosh, and unlike brands that have short, one-word names, our name is two words and 15 characters long. The previous logo had the words Coldwell Banker, as well as the letters CB interlocked in a box, all contained inside a blue rectangle.
We wanted to create a mark that over time could be quickly viewed and recognized at a glance for shorthand purposes, and increasing the prominence of the interlocking C and B allowed us to do this. But in looking at the interlocking C and B on its own, we didn’t think there was enough distinction or panache to it. Enter…the star.
It symbolizes two distinctive things that are completely unique to our company and our brand history. The five-pointed star is the universal symbol of excellence, and in the world of real estate, we feel strongly that no company has adhered to higher standards or innovated in the marketplace like we have. We believe we deserve to be recognized as the single-most excellent brand in real estate and the only brand deserving of this icon.
But there’s more to our star than just being a symbol of excellence. Our star sits in an aspirational position above our CB initials and represents the North Star—the only star in the galaxy that doesn’t move. It’s always there, guiding us home. For 113 years, longer than any other real estate brand on the continent, Coldwell Banker has been there guiding people home. It represents our special backstory and the uniqueness of our brand.
We know we did not invent the five-pointed star, and that many famous brands incorporate a star into their logos, but no other brand in real estate has it. And we feel no brand embodies the symbol of the star like we do.
One of the unique things we looked at while developing this mark wasn’t just how it looked on a yard sign or a building or a business card, but how it looked on our affiliated agents. Apple puts its logo on its products where people see it every day, and in our industry, it’s our affiliated agents and brokers who are in front of clients every day. We wanted to create a mark that looked good on them, so we focused on how to make a mark that is fashionable.
Our inspiration came from luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. We looked at how our mark would appear on everything from scarves to socks, from pins to cuff links, and simple items like baseball caps and t-shirts. We also looked at how it appears when featured on other materials like wood, metal and fabric—and it looks great.
To test how consumers would respond to our new logo, we conducted an online survey with 1,000 consumers. After showing them our new mark, 70 percent of them said it was more stylish and sophisticated than our existing mark, and it also ranked higher for representing an innovative, cool and modern brand they want to know more about.
The new mark is something our team agrees is a beautiful representation of our trusted brand. It’s something we’re all excited to share with the world. The biggest surprise on this journey has been how many of our affiliated agents and companies are clamoring to rebrand before 2020. Agents in test markets were pleased with how much input they were able to provide on the new look, and felt empowered by their newly designed offices. They are excited for a look that matches our experience, value proposition and position as a market leader—and we’re ready to execute the full rebrand and leave our mark.
*Based on AMP! Achieve Maximum Production training course across Realogy-affiliated agents. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Visit blog.coldwellbanker.com/iclv for full sample methodology.
To find out how you can be a part of the amazing things happening at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, visit www.coldwellbanker.com/careers.
David Marine is Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s chief marketing officer.