Century 21. Coldwell Banker. Re/Max. The real estate brands of today still feel aimed at some platonic ideal of a wealthy client who will be attracted to a staid, investment banker-style aesthetic that speaks more to financials than inspiration or happiness. But as millennials enter the housing market–the youngest of whom are just turning the prime first home buying age of 24–there’s a chance to reach an entire new generation of home buyer with a refreshed approach.
The East Coast real estate firm Halstead, known for selling higher-end listings in the New York tristate area, wanted to dust of its brand and seize this moment. It needed to appeal to the millennial market, but it in a way that didn’t give up its sophisticated buyer who might be shopping for a home in the Hamptons.
“They had a brand that you could say was from yesteryear. It was sort of conceived in an architectural manner where it was two pillars, with bay windows in the middle,” says Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, who led the redesign. “It had an antiquated approach. They didn’t want to be considered the past, they wanted to be absolutely considered the present. Contemporary. Bold.”
What Pentagram developed is something of a two-pronged brand. For the logo itself, Halstead gave up the 2D, window-style “H,” and replaced it with a wireframe, 3D “H.” It looks more like an app icon you’d see on your home screen, or a logo from a Silicon Valley company–and that’s by design. “Technology is part and parcel . . . with real estate,” says Opara.
It’s a surprisingly flexible logo, too. The wireframe can be painted in any color, easily animated, or stacked en masse like a pattern of bricks. When you add photos inside of it, the frame suddenly less like a letter, and more like the bones of an actual home. The logo itself becomes a dwelling.
“It’s a play on perception,” says Opara. And that play is meant to give it a subtle sense of humor.
As for the wordmark, that’s a stark contrast to the “H.” Instead of utilizing 3D, it’s a far more traditional printed word. “What we tried to do was utilize Domain Sans, which is a very contemporary font,” says Opara. “One of the great factors behind it is that it has a nostalgic quality to it, but it also has this contemporary cut–this very stylish, sophisticated shape to it.”
When I point out to Opara that, to the casual observer, Halstead’s wordmark is a spitting image to cosmetics company brand like Estēe Lauder, Maybelline, or even Clinique, he simply laughs.
“It’s not just about buying real estate,” says Opara, “but aspiring to a lifestyle.”