Notes on building an ultra-luxe brand

Windermere launched its new luxury brand extension last week, the W Collection. 1000watt was fortunate to have the opportunity to design and architect this new brand identity.

We are extremely proud of the result. No stone was left unturned: from the logo, to the business cards, signage and yard signs. Every aspect was considered. We even designed an entirely new yard sign holder.

But today, I wanted to specifically highlight the W Collection website – the brand’s digital footprint – and some of the strategy that went into it.

Finding focus

There’s an old adage we kick around at the 1000watt offices often, and that is: “If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to anyone.” Unfortunately, more often than not, this rings especially true in the broker website business.

And while there are always multiple competing interests within the halls of a brokerage, I suspect the truth of the matter is that much of this discord can ultimately be attributed to a lack of focus.

Which is why at the start of every project we like to take our clients through a variant of the fast-cheap-good project management triangle that we call buyers-sellers-agents triangle. The idea is that you can pick any two but it is not possible to optimize a broker site for all three audiences.

When we sat down and worked through these priorities for W Collection it clearly became an appeal to the latter two: agents and sellers.

Our focus became crystal clear. And this made every decision that came later that much easier.

Innovation is saying “no” to 1,000 things.

You can’t rely only on knowing what you want to guide you. Steve Jobs put it best: focusing is also about saying no. Because in product or experience design, the truth is, subtraction adds value.

The team at Windermere instinctively got this.

And so we rigorously debated every choice on the website. Did they need a map? Did they need to a search box on the homepage? Did we even need refiners?  

Many of the sacred cows of a real estate website were challenged. Many – by design – did not make the final cut.

The result was organic, pure and simple. Much like the W Collection brand identity itself.

The results show

For sellers, the site presents their homes in a way that honors their elevated status. Our mantra from the beginning was to put every property on a pedestal. We vowed to market each listing with beautiful visuals that also incorporate the latest in digital technologies, including 3D tours. Every page was designed to sit inside the site as a whole but also by itself be as robust as a single property website.

At this stage, I must give a big shout out to Mike Rahmn and his team at Homediary for pulling together quickly and building out the final site that matched our vision, pixel for pixel.

For agents, we sought to remedy one of the biggest sore points on broker websites: agent headshots.

Since we were creating a truly luxury experience, we decided to look outside real estate to the fashion industry as a muse. Windermere partnered with a creative photography team to capture the real essence of every one of their W Collection agents. They even created a custom photo filter for post-processing to match every photo to the brand identity.

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The result is stunning. Agents that look real. Poised, urbane, and yet accessible.

Moreover, the reception both inside the company and the industry has been met with great enthusiasm as Windermere redefines itself in the Ultra-Luxe category.

Many thanks to Jill, OB, Noelle, Leigh, Hillary and everyone else at Windermere for their support and guidance and the opportunity to create something truly special.

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