Diversity, recruiting, competition and more will all be big topics at Coldwell Banker’s big Gen Blue Experience event in New York this week.

All week, Inman is taking a Deep Dive into Coldwell Banker. We’re talking to key executives, unpacking the company’s strategic moves and reporting on the Gen Blue Experience event — taking place virtually and in New York this week. Stay tuned in the coming days for more on Coldwell Banker, and for future Inman Deep Dives into top brokerages.

Three years ago, Coldwell Banker made a hard pivot: After decades with the same horizontal logo, the company had chosen to embark on a comprehensive rebranding effort.

The rebranding — which initially started in 2018 but was outlined in detail to the public in 2019 — included a new logo, as well as a philosophical shift that would see the company position itself as a “North Star,” or a kind of beacon in the housing business.

Now, years later, the company’s rebranding efforts are almost complete. But the episode stands out for capturing a moment in real estate that was — and continues to be — all about change. The fact that the new Coldwell Banker logo went from a horizontal rectangle to a more square orientation, after all, was no coincidence; it was designed to pop better on digital devices. Which is to say, real estate has lately become more digital, as well as more diverse, more competitive, more flush with investor cash, and just all around bigger.

It’s in that context that Coldwell Banker this week is holding its latest Gen Blue Experience event. The gathering is taking place in person in New York City, as well as virtually in a nod to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Inman will be attending as many virtual sessions as possible, watching to see where Coldwell Banker is going and how the industry might follow.

Here are some of the questions to consider at the event kicks off.

1. How will Coldwell Banker continue to attract and retain agents?

One of the biggest stories in real estate over the past several years has been recruiting and retention. What was once a fairly ho-hum part of running a real estate business has exploded into an all out battle for top talent, including teams. These recruiting battles are fueling major industry rivalries and have spawned numerous lawsuits.

Coldwell Banker’s parent company Realogy has been involved in some of these cases. And Coldwell Banker President and CEO M. Ryan Gorman has called out Compass specifically in the past.

But overall, Coldwell Banker has probably been publicly dragged into the trenches of the recruiting wars to a lesser degree than some other big brands. In that light, it’ll be interesting to see how the company frames the issue during several sessions of the Gen Blue Experience. How urgent, for example, does Coldwell Banker think this issue is? Who does the company see as its main competitors, and what tactics are going to be the most effective for winning agents over?

Tuesday, Oct. 5: The Power of Recruiting: The Ultimate Insurance Policy. 9:00 a.m. — 9:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 5: Agent Retention Best Practice Panel. 9:00 a.m. — 9:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 5: Recruiting Best Practice Panel. 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 5: Stop Recruiting – Start Power Prospecting. 10:00 a.m. — 10:45 a.m.

2. How does Coldwell Banker envision its relationship with its rivals?

This question is related to recruiting and retention but broader. The idea here is that Coldwell Banker is facing competition from multiple sides at this point — other brokerages are offering different models related to compensation and expansion, for example — and how it responds will offer insights into what it thinks the future of real estate will look like.

At least two sessions at the Gen Blue Experience will dive into what rival companies are doing. The companies that get included in these sessions will say a lot about what Coldwell Banker thinks is working in the industry, and what models it sees eventually fizzling out.

Monday, Oct. 4: Competitor Intel and How It Shapes Your Growth Strategy. 1:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 6: Learning from the New Competitive Models. 8:30 a.m. — 9:15 a.m.

3. What role does commercial real estate play in an agent’s career?

It’s no surprise that this year’s Gen Blue Experience includes sessions on commercial real estate, given that Coldwell Banker has long included that sector among its specialties. It is notable, though, that there are multiple sessions on this topic and that they appear to be aimed at helping conventional residential agents break into commercial.

That’s interesting given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the fact that many office workers are still laboring from their homes. Which is to say, commercial real estate is still in the midst of the largest disruption in recent memory.

In that context, it will be interesting to see if Coldwell Banker envisions a recovery for commercial real estate, and if so what that recovery might look like. Will all cities bounce back, for example? Will certain types of commercial real estate, say warehouses verses offices, ultimately see similar resilience?

Key sessions to watch:

Tuesday, Oct. 5: Top 10 Ways to Grow a Commercial Business. 9:00 a.m. — 9:45 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 5: What is Commercial Real Estate? 10:00 a.m. — 10:45 a.m.

4. How will Coldwell Banker tackle an increased push for diversity in real estate?

Diversity has become an increasingly prominent topic in real estate over the last several years, thanks in part to reports noting that discrimination remains a problem. The issue became even more urgent last year when protests over discriminatory policing swept the U.S.

The Gen Blue Experience includes several sessions focused on diversity, including one that’s oriented around training and earning a certification.

The fact that Coldwell Banker is including these sessions in the event indicates the company continues to see increasing diversity as an important goal. The question, then, is how it specifically plans to accomplish that goal.

Monday, Oct. 4: At Home with Diversity. 9:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 6: Unconscious Bias. 8:30 a.m. — 9:15 a.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 6: Agents of Change. 1:00 p.m. — 2:45 p.m.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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