As two juggernauts prepare for a new generation of home buyers they've updated their corporate identity to give their brands a fresh feel. Both companies have taken radically different approaches to become the gold standard of the real estate industry, RE/MAX leverages from their history while Century 21 slashes the past to carve a new future.
What is rebranding? Rebranding is like hitting the reset button on your brand, usually to improve perception with customers and stakeholders. This is commonly accomplished by updating the company's current identity, including the logo, messaging, brand colours, and packaging. A rebrand can be a daunting task but when executed well can help catapult a business forward.
So, with that said, let’s dive in!
RE/MAX – Short for Real Estate Maximums is one of the leading real estate companies in the world Based in Denver, CO, RE/MAX has more than 115,000 agents working in over 7,000 offices in 100 countries. In August last year RE/MAX introduced their new logo designed by Camp & King, a San Francisco-based advertising agency who have worked with leading brands like Amazon Prime, Energizer, and UGG.
"The iconic red, white and blue hot air balloon has been updated to be brighter, more modern and more appealing to the home buyers and sellers of today - while being instantly recognizable as RE/MAX. Building on the 2016 launch of the Sign of an RE/MAX Agent campaign, the brand refresh continues to grow alongside current real estate trends. For the fourth straight year, the largest group of homebuyers are millennials, who compose 34 percent of buyers."
RE/MAX made a conscious decision to appeal more to the millennial demographic of potential homeowners, believing buyers aged 36 years and younger are purchasing homes at a higher rate than other age groups. Camp + King were signed on to refresh the logo, including the balloon, wordmark, as well as develop new signage for the real estate brand.
Camp + King mentions approaching the project not as refreshing the brand on a whim, but rather to maintain RE/MAX's top position in the real estate industry, focusing on attracting the customers of today and of tomorrow. They surveyed over 20,000 existing customers across Canada and the US to aid in their decision making. Their new wordmark tested better on three traits found important by the brand: modern, strong and trustworthy. Added consideration was given towards how the branding translated on new channels as this was the first brand refresh since 1973 and most of the initial contact from customers now come through .com, email and/or social media.
Their new mark is rooted in their history and by keeping visually similar to their old logo they are leveraging from the past half century of marketing. However, the new mark has been criticised as being cold and lifeless.
Century 21 was established in 1971 and, like RE/MAX, are one of the most well-known brands in their industry, consists of nearly 800 independent franchised offices, operates in over 80 countries, and has over 111,000 sales professionals. No creative agency/in-house team was mentioned.
"This is just the beginning of the bold ambitions we have for challenging existing conventions in real estate relationships and to progress the industry in ways that favor the consumer yet directly help our agents and brokers break through the clutter and noise and win in the markets they operate in," said Cara Whitley, chief marketing officer, Century 21 Real Estate. "Our rebranding campaign is more than a logo; it is recognizing that every broker and affiliated agent has their own way of doing things that work for them and providing a clean and clear stage for their individual personalities and unique stories to be told."
Century 21 introduced a new logo, a refreshed colour pallet, and updated signage and marketing materials. They have developed a monogram with the characters 'C21' which they include in their marketing touch-points. This is a strong, distinctive mark that helps quickly identify their brand, working exceptionally well as their icon in social media. The new print collateral is well put together however their business cards have not been well received, being criticised for feeling unprofessional for a real estate agent as well as posing risks for individuals with longer names.Their move screams Century 21's desire to move away from their dated iconography and towards something sleeker while they seek to better appeal towards the millennial demographic of homeowners.
With Century 21’s new logotype and branding they have reinvented themselves with an aggressive overhaul, the simplified logo follows suit with many other large brands who are erring towards simplicity. Their new look, especially their signage, holds little resemblance to the past which means they face an uphill battle towards building up their brand recognition.
The success or failure of a rebrand is assessed in year two and beyond, as we view how the branding works in the real world. After the initial buzz has worn off how do your customers respond? That's when the rubber hits the road. The hype from a rebrand is great but this is a long-term play about building lasting value for the company through memorability, recognition, and differentiation. It's also important to note that the visual aspects of a rebrand are just one aspect, others include positioning, messaging, and voice.
Both companies share one major reason for their image shake-up, to appeal to the new generation of home buyers: millennials. Marketers have been focusing their firepower on this demographic for some time, with the real estate industry now starting to feel their presence. It will be interesting to see which strategy best connects with their target audience over the next few years.
It's interesting to see the difference in approach. RE/MAX holds on to their history, which can leverages decades of brand goodwill and marketing spend. While also conveying a feeling that they are for every buyer. While Century 21 charts a whole new path, conveying a feeling of luxury and exclusivity.
So, what do you think of these recent rebrands? Are Century 21 leading the charge with their innovative face lift or did RE/MAX knock it out of the park by staying true their history. Let us know!