National Association of Realtors Unveils First Brand Revamp in 45 Years

The National Association of Realtors’ new logo, updated for the first time since 1973, aims to respond to a changing real estate industry and to remind people that Realtors are more than just what “mom and dad used.”

For the first time in more than four decades, the National Association of Realtors has a new logo, a key part of NAR’s effort to update its image in a rapidly disrupted real estate industry.

The logo, updated for the first time since 1973, preserves familiar elements like the stylized “R” and blue color palette. But those elements are now integrated in a cube design and uses a more modern sans-serif font for association’s name. The rebranding was among the first things on NAR CEO Bob Goldberg’s agenda when he assumed the role last June, and he was eager to see it implemented quickly.

NAR could be viewed as the 800-pound gorilla that’s slow to move.

“[NAR] could be viewed as the 800-pound gorilla that’s slow to move,” he said, noting that the idea of rebranding had been discussed before in his previous role as senior vice president of sales and marketing, business development and strategic investments, professional development and conventions. “We said, ‘How do we change everything to be faster-moving and representative?’”

To do that, NAR conducted numerous surveys of members, staff, and others in the real estate industry to get a better grip on how the association was being perceived. “A lot of it was finding the right tone [for a redesign], because you don’t want to just redesign for design sake,” said Karen Bebart, NAR’s vice president of member marketing and communications. “You want to tie it to questions of, ‘What is the future and where do we want to be—what is our role in that future?’”

Much of what NAR learned during its research process is that it needed to shore up its image as a trusted and valuable resource that was still meaningful in an era where many younger homebuyers are house-hunting through more DIY and online methods. “We’d show the old logo and ask, ‘What does it mean to you?’” Goldberg said. “‘Well, it’s Realtors.’ ‘What does that tell you?’ ‘Well, my mom and dad used Realtors.’”

Goldberg said NAR considered more radical and novel treatments of the logo with Conran Design Group, but establishing an image that emphasized wisdom and experience—while keeping up with the times—meant it made little sense to outright jettison that familiar “R.”

Another factor that NAR needed to consider were its 1.3 million members, who rely on the logo as well. To get their input, NAR assembled a “sounding board” of nine members who considered designs and offered feedback. Much of that feedback involved addressing potential concerns. “We’ll get comments like ‘Hold it, I just ordered 5,000 business cards the old logo on it,’” Goldberg said. “No, we’re not going to make you throw those away, but there’ll be enough runway over the next year, year and a half that when they’re doing reorders to start implementing the new brand.” (In the meantime, all members will receive a pin with the new logo.)

The rebranding experience also gave NAR an opportunity to corral its various membership groups, such as commercial and global Realtors, and unify them under the new logo. (Commercial Realtors, for instance, had been using red instead of blue for its logo color.) Ultimately, Goldberg says, those efforts help send the message that NAR is responsive to change, a message that NAR’s board was eager to take part in.

“Some of the major brands [in real estate] like ReMax and Century 21, they’ve updated their branding,” Goldberg said. “It’s part of the American culture. We had enough in our background research to say companies and organizations are doing this to better connect with their customers, to better send a message to say, ‘We get it, we’re repositioning ourselves to be a more responsive, better player.’”

(screenshot via NAR's Facebook page)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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