Friday Flash: How could this happen?

Man, it’s really bad.

The logo NAR announced.

How could this happen?

As someone who runs a company that does brand and logo work every day, let me tell you how it may have unfolded:

  1. NAR decides it needs a new logo because this is something they can actually make happen.
  2. NAR feels nervous about this, so hires a fancy London-based agency in order to feel less nervous.
  3. Fancy agency assigns B-team to real estate client.
  4. Agency digs into NAR’s world and quickly realizes they have entered onto a different cosmic plane. They do research and discovery to find their bearings, but remain lost.
  5. Agency presents concepts to a large committee that gives them scattered, subjective and contradictory feedback. This is agency’s fault as much as it is NAR’s fault.
  6. Agency not feeling it.
  7. Agency, fried, comes back with tepid “evolution” approach pitched along with a rip-roaring story about how the cube is “forward looking” just to get the project across the finish line.

We’ve seen this sort of sequence play out many, many times.

It may have gone down differently. But I’m looking for a way to make sense of this.

It’s not always this way. Consider the recent Century 21 rebrand. That was, a.) needed, and b.) very well-executed.

And let me be clear: this isn’t sour grapes. 1000WATT isn’t angling for NAR’s business. NAR didn’t – and doesn’t – need a new logo.

I’m bummed more than anything. Bummed that Bob Goldberg and Elizabeth Mendenhall went for the easy play, flubbed it, and in so doing diminished their capacity for executing the things they should have done before they ever touched the damn logo.

Perversely, the agency may have unknowingly designed the perfect visual: an askew and multidimensional symbol of institutional crisis.

I’m not a designer, so my perspective on this is strategic, not creative. Here’s what Patrick, our amazing Creative Director, had to say about it:

“Brand evolutions come about due to a variety of circumstances, however one truth that should exist for any of such effort is that the result should signal something exciting and new – a message to the greater world that your organization is always changing, getting better. The work should reflect that energy.

The NAR logo actually aged backwards instead of forwards here. It became even fussier than it was before, which is an odd outcome for such a large effort. If there was a cohesive story that drove this evolution, it is left to the viewer to decide what that was – and ultimately, anything you come up with seems easy, and even generic.”

Sometimes things that eventually succeed in real estate are dismissed for years as weird, tacky or gimmicky.

Those that do the dismissing apply their own aesthetic judgements to things made for someone else.

EXP Realty is an example of this. This company was scoffed at for years because it bases its operation within a virtual world. Yes, that’s right – avatars, group chats and such. It looks like a game, but it’s not.

EXP also trades OTC, which, let’s be real, strikes most of us as about as legit as a “massage parlor.”

But – check this out – the company has nearly tripled its agent count in the past 18 months (to 6,500) and has applied to be uplisted to the NASDAQ.

“Weird” sometimes works in real estate. I love that about this business.

It’s remarkable how consistently media outlets and blogs outside the industry have covered discount real estate startups over the past 20 years.

This piece, about Reali, a California-based newcomer, could have been written in 2002. Back then, the middleman/travel industry/information-empowered consumer narrative was being applied to YHD and eRealty.

That’s not to say Reali (or REX, Purplebricks, etc.) won’t succeed. They may. But seems to me they’d be better served bucking this tired “discount” story.

Two years ago, 1000WATT hosted an event called Turn On for our clients and friends.

We’re doing it again this June 19-20 in Portland, OR.

We don’t sell tickets. We do this to build our tribe.

This year’s show will feature a best-selling brand marketer, real estate leaders pushed well beyond their comfort zones, a prolific Hollywood writer and director’s take on creating great stories, a Guiness Book of World Records-listed poker champion’s guidance on working with the cards you’re dealt and much more.

Plus, a memorable party at 1000WATT world headquarters.

You can get a sense for what it looks like here.

We make a small number of tickets available to our readers. If you’d like to come, request a ticket here.

Enjoy the weekend.

[Disclosure: Century 21 is a 1000WATT client, though we did not do their rebrand]