Best of FOREM: Crossover Real Estate Brands

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What Does the Real Estate Brand of the Future Look Like? by Joel Burslem on Monday, October 8, 2007

The news that Realogy Corporation is going to license Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s brand to launch a new brokerage got me thinking again once again about what the real estate brands of the future are going to look like. (More on the launch from The Real Estate Bloggers).

There’s little doubt we live in an era where the big brands dominate. Drive through most towns these days and you’re going to see the same handful of big box stores that results in a startling uniform and homogenized consumer landscape. Welcome to the United States of Generica.

As these brands reach saturation point however, it’s natural for them to want to begin extending themselves into related markets. To leverage their name recognition and consumer awareness into new business verticals. Starbucks’ push into music sales is a perfect example of the powerful crossover nature of new brands, as is the push into white-labeled banking and finance services by retail outlets.

Real estate is no different – and Realogy gets that. There’s a trust factor that comes with an established consumer brand and a pre-existing identity to build upon. Plus, licensing an existing story is far easier than writing a new one (see Why Do All Real Estate Logos Suck So Bad?).

So it got me thinking, just for fun, what could be some interesting crossover brands for the real estate brokerages of the future?

  • Martha Stewart real estate. A pretty obvious one – they’ve already licensed the brand to KB Homes to build a new community of homes in North Carolina.
  • Ikea real estate. They’re selling prefab “Boklok” homes in Scandanavia and the UK – a trendy condo sales arm, for example, could be fun.
  • Virgin real estate. Up to now, Richard Branson has had a fairly rough time penetrating the US market as extensively as he has done overseas, but the launch of Virgin America may start to turn that around. Might appeal to the 30-something crowd.

(Personally, I’d love to see Steve Jobs at the helm of Apple Real Estate – but that’s just geeky wishful thinking.)

What about the online players then?

  • Zillow. OK, OK. I know I’m beating a pretty tired drum… We all know Zillow is a media company… But I still think it makes a lot of sense for them to take the brand to the streets. A true online and offline hybrid brand – Zillow’s the only one with deep enough pockets to do this. I’d be all for it.

  • ActiveRain. We all know that right now ActiveRain is a big unprofitable echo-chamber. If it turned itself into a brokerage there could be a renewed sense of purpose to the brand, as well as a way to drive the much-desired consumer traffic to the site through traditional offline methods – yard signs etc. Further, you could connect individual franchisers through the social network for support and training. Ultimately you’d leverage the power of a distributed agent community working for and with each other.

Any other ideas of crossover brands?