How To Design A Story-Driven Real Estate Brand

April 25, 2024

Let’s just talk about this.

We often don’t think of real estate businesses as BRANDS — the way we think about charities or soccer teams, perfumes or Pepsi — because most real estate businesses don’t give us stories with feeling behind them.

STORIES take logos and names, and turn them into brands.

STORIES are made of the stuff that sticks with us.

Expectations. History. Promises. Social cues. Emotions.

STORIES make us say we “love Apple” or “love Coke”…but what do we really love?

Ourselves, really.

Certain classic cookware brands remind me of my Granny and the safe haven her home was to me growing up.

My favorite $12 Revlon perfume transports me back to my wedding day; it’s a little heart-skip thrill laced with warm musk and citrus, every time I spritz my wrists and breathe in deeply.

I love memories. Feelings.

I love brands that give me a chance to love something about myself. 

So do you.

Seth Godin puts the phenomenon this way in relation to branding:

“We can’t easily explain this, even to ourselves. We can’t easily acknowledge the narcissism and the nostalgia that drives so many of the apparently rational decisions we make every day. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not at work.”

What we wear, what we buy…

Which Realtors we choose to work with, because somehow they persuaded us of their worth more than The Other Agents…

They become extensions of our personality. Sort of totems of our selves.

Who are we?, is the question, or more importantly —

Who would we LIKE to be?

Great brands answer this question for us. But answering this question is what many Realtors — great at business though they may be — just miss, brand-side.

Most Realtors are marketing STUFF.

They aren’t making meaning.

Whenever I move about the marketing world of other industries, I’m continually floored by how relatively easy it is to find brands infused with feeling and story. The kind of brands we all remember.

In these other industries, I expect these brands to make me feel something.

Like, I think about my photographer’s personal brand. Moody, editorial, romantic…

My favorite taco joint’s brand. Vibrant, eclectic, modern cantina vibes…

My favorite local boutique’s brand. Vintage, subtly edgy, minimal.

Whether the world is food or film, commerce or hospitality — the brand bar is often much higher here. So when I inhabit these spaces, my expectation to be stirred and served on the emotional level is higher, too.

Then I return to real estate.

Suddenly as a consumer, I’m asked…to numb myself?

To feel very little? To be visually and creatively wooed, very little? To be told marketing stories of consistency and care

So very little.

Because the average real estate brand masks itself behind copy-paste visuals…

Delivers industry platitudes on repeat (that’s way easier, sadly, than doing the hard work of human-centric messaging)…

And almost never asks me to see and celebrate the things I love about myself the most…

The emotions, the stories. The promise of what I could be and how I could feel, for the better.

But then, there are those agents who are gloriously defiant of the status quo. They WANT to tell marketing stories, not just Make The Marketing Stuff.

They want to inject life into a brand-numb industry.

And no, they don’t all magically work with our studio (*wink*), but the ones who DO find us, hire us because we’re the same kind of different as them.

Our collaborations result in true brand meaning. Story. Feeling.

Like this…

Our rebrand for the all-female team at Harold Homes reimagines 90s nostalgia and feminism for today’s audience.

The right integration of bold color, custom illustration and type curations straddles playful with classic, utilitarian with a little HELL-YEAH-retro-punk (+ lots of ability to inspire their female client base):



Or take our rebrand for The Hub Realty, whose family legacy story spans nearly four generations. “The Hub,” a locally owned and respected business in their Madison community, is the symbolic cornerstone of the business name. To honor that deeper meaning visually, our team translated the geometry of the original antique signage of “The Hub” into a fresh illustration with artistic-modern flair.

Not only do you feel the warmth and welcome of The Hub brand when you encounter their visuals, you partake of a slice of their timeless legacy story at every touchpoint:



Then there’s our rebrand for Maryland Realtor, Katy Galloway. Customized letterform designs establish an effortlessly stylish tone evoking the coast, but the hallmark of our brand storytelling for Katy is powerful use of iconography and custom artwork.

The Great Blue Heron, seen iconically throughout the region, is an instant centerpiece. It pairs with a timeless landscape painting for one of Katy’s supportive brand patterns, together comprising a proud visual tribute to the best symbols of Southern Maryland:



Even more recently, in our just-finalized (as in today!) Brand Strategy for Realtor Lynn Peaperwe insisting on digging deeper than just a pretty-face aesthetic.

The visual direction for Lynn’s rebrand pulls concepts for modern-vintage patterns (and possible symbolic emblems) inspired by the artwork and textiles found within the design-minded homes she loves.

It’s a way to not only honor what is true of Lynn’s personality at her core, but to welcome her audience into a world of beauty and whimsy that celebrates the warmth of home and connection. Here’s our mood board for Lynn:



I’ll leave you with this today.

The overall emotional authenticity of your real estate brand is far more important than “making the perfect first impression” or “capturing the lead” immediately.

Want to make us feel something?

Want to make us remember you?

Want to capture our hearts and win our loyalty for life?

Don’t make stuff with your marketing.

Make meaning.

Brand yourself with story.

Give us something to feel.

Definitely something worth trying. Or hire us to do it, for you and with you.



P.S – What’s BLUEPRINT, again? 

We’re a gaggle of designers, writers, and creatives on a mission to change the branding narrative in real estate.

We offer a signature branding service and the industry’s most elegant and high-converting digital products to help modern, stylish Realtors do three things:

➝ Communicate their worth;

➝ Become the obvious choice;

➝ Tell the right stories to stand out + SELL more.

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