On Wednesday evening the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced plans to “pause” its rollout of a new logo for the trade organization over a two year span after the decision prompted widespread backlash among members who criticized the cost of the initiative, estimated at $250,000, as well as the redesign itself.
In light of the abrupt change of plans, many Realtors are wondering — what are NAR’s next steps with regard to the redesign, and can the trade organization turn back now?
The joint statement released on Facebook Wednesday by NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall and CEO Bob Goldberg said the redesign had solicited a “diversity of opinions” and read in part:
While the issues that drove this process to evaluate and ultimately evolve the REALTOR® logo still exist, we are pausing its implementation. This extra time will allow us to further examine the enhancement of the REALTOR® brand proposition, including the logo, which means so much to you and your business.
We are a member-centric organization and this decision to postpone the brand transformation demonstrates that your national association is listening.
On the Facebook post, some Realtors thanked NAR for responding to members, while many still expressed disappointment in the money already spent on the endeavor. Others expressed concern that even more money would be spent in the future.
“Glad you finally decided to listen to your paying members,” said Mike Towers with Keller Williams Capital District in Albany, New York. “The differences of opinion wasn’t even close. It was overwhelmingly disliked.”
“While I appreciate the NAR hearing the complaints, and trying to respond to the membership, is it not a little too late?” asked Sean Rogers, a real estate agent with Century 21 Commonwealth in Massachusetts, in the comments on the Facebook post. “There’s no going back.”
“The $250,000 has been spent and I don’t see the association recouping the money,” Rogers added. “Whether or not you like the rebranding, we at least have something to show for the money spent. If the new design is scrapped, I think the association will upset even more members for having nothing to show for money. Unfortunately, at this point, this feels like a no win situation.”
The estimated $250,000 cost for the redesign seemed to be a particular point of ire for Realtors, though NAR has been clear that the money wasn’t simply spent on creating a new logo.
“[The] majority of dollars were spent on getting significant feedback from consumer panels and members about the disconnects in our brand proposition,” NAR CEO Bob Goldberg told another Realtor on LinkedIn. “[It] will help us in many other ways as we reposition our organization and consumer awareness programs. The end result was a need to change and the logo output was just one of the areas.”
While many expressed a sentiment that they were blindsided by the cost, Goldberg also noted in a separate Linkedin comment that extensive member participation was part of the process. The budget dollars spent were vetted with the 40-member budget review committee, the 20-member finance committee and the 800-member NAR Board of Directors.
Vicki May, a Realtor based in Illinois, disputed the claims of many members that a better and cheaper logo could have been designed on Fiverr — a freelance marketplace for small-business owners.
“It actually does cost a lot to redevelop a logo,” she said. “And no, you can’t do a logo for a large, national organization on Fiverr.”
“I’ve seen some pretty awful Fiverr logos … some of them for Realtors,” she added. “Ford, Chevy, BMW, Jaguar and most every large old company has updated their logo over and over and over to keep up and stay relevant.”
Ultimately, that $250,000 was approximately half of the $497,000 budgeted to complete the research, consulting, and enhancing of the brand proposition, which included the logo development and design for the rebranding, according to NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen.
In addition to the cost for the rebrand, Wiskerchen confirmed Wednesday that NAR had proposed spending an additional $385,000 in 2018, which would cover the manufacturing of pins for the association’s 1.3 million members and the cost to ship them to more than 1,100 associations across the industry.
“Note that the latter dollars have not been spent as the pins and materials have not yet been produced,” Wiskerchen told Inman. “At this time, steps to produce or finalize any new materials will be held off as we continue to listen to and process all of the member feedback we are receiving.”
In the wake of the decision, Wiskerchen told Inman it’s too early to say if there will still be a new logo and if it will be similar to the one announced on Monday. She also added that it’s too early to say if more money will be spent on another redesign.