A Couple of Thoughts on realtor.com Redesign

The new, much more pastelly, Realtor.com

So more than  few people have already commented on the new design for Realtor.com realtor.com. Listingbits has a roundup with some choice quotes.

I guess all of the commentators make good points, and on the whole, I do like the designs. But then, I didn’t hate the old design either, so there is that.

But two things are worth at least thinking about.

The Logo: Stepping Away from NAR?

First of all, the logo is cool and all, and it is a departure from the NAR-imposed guidelines. WAVGroup shows us how different it is:

It’s a little hard to see, I know, but the old log has the BIG “R” of NAR, and the capitalized REALTOR action going on. The new logo doesn’t. Inman News thought it signalled a step away from NAR.

Well, since I wrote in my report on Zillow, Trulia, and realtor.com (paid content, y’all), that one of Move’s major challenges is to deal with the dilemma of its relationship with NAR, this redesign strikes me as a very positive first step. At the same time, it’s going to take a lot more than a new logo. As I wrote:

Move, on the other hand, simply cannot. Realtor doesn’t mean real estate in the consumer’s mind; most consumers couldn’t tell you the difference between a REALTOR(R) and a real estate agent to begin with. And because NAR has spent hundreds of millions over the years branding REALTOR as meaning someone who sells real estate, the term already has a meaning attached to it that is far too close.

So time will tell if the lower case “realtor.com” and the “where home happens” can overcome the decades of branding that NAR has done around the term. When you have to run ads saying not every real estate agent is a REALTOR, you have brand dominance. It’s like Xerox running ads saying not every copier is a Xerox.

Second, am I the only one who sees the new logo and sees… other things?

realtor.com logo




But Seriously… Brand Promise

More seriously, though, the issue going forward isn’t colors and logo, but brand promise. I like the tagline of “where home happens” but it’s going to be quite a challenge to actually live up to and enforce that brand promise.

WAVGroup, in its praise, touched on Century 21’s rebrand into “Stronger, Bolder, Faster”. Well, that’s a helluva brand promise to live up to. I mean, is Century 21 going to start holding bench press competitions and fire people who don’t measure up to the new standard of strength? Of course not. One result is that the branding is more or less empty; I haven’t the faintest idea what “bolder” means in real estate.

The same applies to realtor.com. “where home happens” sounds nice. But what does it actually mean? What is the brand promise here?

The idea that “home” is something that happens on a website is something I recoil from emotionally. And I have no idea how realtor.com is actually going to live up to this brand promise. If it doesn’t intend to live up to that brand promise, then it’s just an empty bunch of words that doesn’t mean anything.

Knowing some of the folks at realtor.com, I have a feeling that they have a multilayered plan to actually execute on the plan. I hope that the tagline isn’t just a bunch of focus-grouped words to create a soft-focus emotional sugar-high.

In any event…

The redesign is sweet; it’s very attractive. The logo, as much as I kid, is quite well done in many respects. Now we’ll see if Move can manage the problem of a brand it does not own and manage, and live up to the brand promise of “where home happens”… if that’s a promise at all.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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