Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 15, 2020

Change isn’t easy, even if it’s just a logo

When Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty Managing Broker Robert Backer learned last year that Coldwell Banker was redesigning its logo, his first thought was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Backer had his reasons for wanting Coldwell Banker to leave its familiar blue box logo alone. Launched in 1978, the logo had been in offices and front yards for 42 years, and the numbers testified to the success of the brand.

In 2019, Coldwell Banker was claiming an average sales price 16% above the national average and doing more $1 million transactions than any other real estate company, he says.

Backer also says he believes in the brand with which he’s aligned his real estate business. It’s a brand that has lasted 114 years after rising out of the ashes of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It pioneered the seller’s disclosure agreement, established the first code of ethics, brought real estate searches to YouTube, launched the first real estate website to showcase listings and deployed the first international real estate app for smartphones.

“There was a lot of equity in the existing logo,” Backer says. “People were familiar with it.”

Closer to home, the brand had served Pryor Realty well since it opened in 1978.

This made Backer stop and think. Coldwell Banker introduced its logo around the same time as Pryor Realty opened its doors, making the logo as old as “Star Wars.” In fact, Backer mused, the font used to spell “Coldwell Banker” looked similar to the one the popular science fiction brand began using in the late seventies.

“It was modern at the time, but it’s become tired, and the company wanted to refresh and modernize its look,” Backer says.

Backer had one more reason for being less than jubilant about Coldwell Banker’s decision to tailor a new look: Pryor Realty had just dropped a bundle of cash on a new road sign.

“They announced the new logo right after we installed our new sign,” he says, looking a little pained.

Like many large businesses, Coldwell Banker is fond of meetings, conferences and memorandums, so as the company began discuss its new logo internally before unleashing it earlier this year, Backer was listening.

What he heard changed his mind.

A video titled “The Story Behind the Star - Road to Rebrand” was particularly effective in swaying Backer’s opinion. The video opens with a group of brokers meeting at the company’s headquarters in 2018 to discuss the existing logo.

The consensus among the group is that the blue box doesn’t translate to today’s consumer or marketplace. “It creates the perception that we’re an older, stodgier company,” notes Shawn Guzzo, a regional vice president for the company. “But when you think about all the things we’re doing with technology, we aren’t.”

David Marine, chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker, also chimes in, saying, “It no longer reflects what we are on the inside. We’re as cutting edge and relevant a real estate brand as there is today.”

The task of redesigning the logo landed at Siltanen & Partners, which has produced work for Nissan, Apple, Levi Strauss, the International Olympic Committee and many other well-known clients.

The group aimed to maintain the equity of the former logo while infusing it with the energy of a high fashion brand, explains chief creative officer Rob Siltanen in the video.

To achieve this objective, Siltanen & Partners kept the blue and white color scheme, supersized the tiny “CB” stamp, contemporized the font and added a star in the upper right section of the logo.

“The star symbolizes excellence and the standard to which we hold our agents,” says Marine in the video. “It’s also symbolic of the North Star, which for thousands of years has guided people home. And guiding people home is at the core of what Coldwell Banker does.”

When Backer saw how the logo would work in real world scenarios such as office décor, signage and agent apparel, he was sold. “It’s fresh and exciting and contemporary,” he adds. “And the star reminds us that we’re there to guide our clients.”

“The brand is a signal not only to us but also the consumers we serve that we’re ready to keep leading in the years ahead,” says Charlie Young, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker, in the video.

Backer says Pryor Realty has fully deployed the new logo. It’s already appeared on its business cards and landed on its stationary, and its yard signs now display the new design. Some of the Pryor Realty’s agents are even wearing spanking new Coldwell Banker apparel sporting the logo.

The road sign, however, still features the blue box. “Changing out signage can be expensive,” Backer moans. “But we’ll get it changed.”