Last year, I had the chance to work at Nike for several months. More specifically, I worked in the Nike Golf division, primarily helping them design and produce some of their marketing collateral materials.

It was a great experience, and I was privileged to learn from some of the top marketing and design professionals working in the business today. My time in Beaverton, a suburb just outside of Portland where Nike's World HQ is located, got me thinking on just how it was that a lopsided checkmark could become one of the most instantly recognizable brands in the world and whose brand attribute has come to embody the sporting ethos.

swoosh.gif

It prompted me to write this post on my personal blog about just how powerful a symbol the Nike Swoosh has become. I called it Brand Hieroglyphics because just like ancient Egyptians, whose used pictographic icons to represent certain cultural concepts, some companies have succeeded in positioning their corporate logos to convey certain meanings in our collective consciousness.

For example:

apple_computer-01.jpg(creativity)
MercedesBenzLogo.jpeg(luxury)

So why is it then, with this in mind, that Real Estate companies’ logos are so universally bad?

I threw together a quick collective of Real Estate 1.0 and Real Estate 2.0 companies’ logos. With few exceptions I would argue that none of them communicate any tangible brand attribute.

brands.gif
Remax – Ugh. Crosshatched lettering makes this logo hard to read, overly busy and hard on the eyes.

Coldwell Banker – Unfriendly. Combine the word ‘Cold’ in the name and a Borg-like design and you might as well throw away the welcome mat.

Century 21 – Out of Touch. Retro font and design makes it feel like this company is stuck in 1968.

Prudential – Unoriginal, but somewhat effective. The Rock at least embodies some character: steadfast, resolute, etc. (Full disclosure: I work for a Prudential affiliate so I’m probably biased.)

Keller Williams – Clichéd. I chose KW to represent the thousands of brokers out there who jump lemming-like off the same design cliff. Will this industry ever move away from flowery scripts and people’s last names?

Zillow.com – Uninspired. Not terrible, but I'm not sure what the Zorro-like slash on the house is supposed to tell me.

trulia.com – Weird. What is that thing, a parking meter?

Aside: Both Zillow and Trulia really need to jump off the Flickr bandwagon and lose the Beta designation from their logos. It’s one thing to have hack together a new web application, float it to your friends and call it a Beta – but when you have millions of dollars in VC money backing you, it just looks like a half-assed cop out.

Redfin – Boring. Not bad, it’s clean and simple and I like that. It’s just that that red house is plain-Jane boring.

I won’t even bother getting into the legions of home-grown designs that plague this industry. That’s one headache I’ll steer clear of. For now.

Can anyone point me to some good examples of Real Estate logos?

For the story of a great corporate logo redesign, read on about the secret in the new Fedex logo.

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