431 | Leading a Rebrand with Coldwell Banker

Leading a rebrand is a challenge no matter what the business. But when you have a brand with a legacy in their market the biggest challenge is aligning people inside and outside the company to this new change. Our guest today is David Marine, Chief Marketing Officer for Coldwell Banker. David shares his strategies so you can learn from the process. where he positively influences consumers and the brand’s global network on a mass scale from his management of world-class, award-winning advertising campaigns to elevating Coldwell Banker’s digital footprint each year with his creativity in regard to content and video creation which has garnered well over 100 million video views.

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Featuring LITT 431 David Marine

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Target Audience: David Marine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker, where he oversees the brand’s marketing efforts and content strategy including acting as managing editor for the Coldwell Banker blog and heading up video production efforts. While CMO by day, David runs a three ring circus at night as he is the father of 4 boys. He also happens to be married to Wonder Woman.


David Marine: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Listen to leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. I’m the host of leaders in the trenches. My question for you today is how do you embrace change across your organization? As a leader, you’re faced with so many things that are changing so fast that you must be agile. You must be looking for the place, you must know the things that are important. The four steps that we’re going to share with you in today’s episode, we have a very special guest here today is David Marine. He’s the CMO of Coldwell Banker called wise, have recognized name in the real estate industry and they went through a massive change they needed to rebrand. So we look at some of the steps along that journey, but we also looked at what are the common elements that you could be used inside of your business. So we talk about those four things inside this episode. So make sure you tune in to every one of them. It’s toward the end. So if you want to skip to it, I guess you could, but you’d miss all the lead up in the context of the change that was happening at Coldwell Banker. So here’s the interview with David Marine of Caldwell Banker.

Gene Hammett: Hi David. How are you doing?

David Marine: Very well. Gene.

Gene Hammett: Well, I’m excited to have you on leaders in the trenches.

David Marine: Same here. I’m happy to be here and we conduct the masters. It’s great.

Gene Hammett: Yep. This will actually display like maybe a couple of months later, but we did just watch an incredible master and if you say, you know, he rebranded himself, he’s now a champion Again.

David Marine: That is true. And Tiger has done it probably better than anyone in history. We love our comeback stories and are underdogs. And you never thought you’d say that about Tiger, but he certainly is reclaimed his throne.

Gene Hammett: Well, I’ve already let our audience know a little about you, David, but tell us about what you do and who you serve.

David Marine: So I’m the chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker a real estate, have actually been with the brand for 17 years in a variety of roles within marketing and they’ve never given me cause to leave. And so my customer is actually two-fold. One is as a brand, consumers interact with it for the last hundred and 13 years. We’ve been around since 1906 then we also have a network of 93,000 real estate agents across the globe who are showcasing our brand every single day from other lapels, their business cards to sign they put in the front yard. So it’s one of those unique brands that have truly to audiences.

Gene Hammett: Well, I want to dive into this because you guys, you know, felt the need to rebrand. So I want to go back to the beginning. What was the, what were triggering the thoughts of a rebrand because this is not a small feat with a company your size?

David Marine: No. And for a company that’s been around for this long, and actually, our existing mark and representation of the brand has been around for 40 plus years and hasn’t changed at all. But what was comforting to me and helpful in this process is over the course of my career, I’d always heard inklings about, hey, you know, we really need to do something and shift the way that our brand looks and feels to consumers. And real estate’s been going through a ton of change over the last decade or, and especially in the last three or four years. And we felt that it was time and we were hearing that feedback, not just from within our own minds or within the industry, but our own agents are on brokers. We’re talking about where you guys are headed and what you guys are doing with implementing campaigns and technology and trying to reshape the brand.

David Marine: They’re saying, but you know what? There’s something that’s at the core that really isn’t showcasing that. And so we felt that that really was a signal of, hey, let’s take a step back and not reinvent to Coldwell Banker is, you know, we’re still that trusted guide who’s going to take you home, whether you’re a buyer or seller. We’d been doing that for the better part of a century, but maybe it’s time to reshape how we are positioning what we’re doing and then how we are visually identifying ourselves within the marketplace.

Gene Hammett: Was there any one or two things that stood out? It says, okay, now it’s time.

David Marine: Yeah, it was actually, we had, I did an interview for a separate podcast sounds popular service that was asking me about this new CX technology suite, which is a proprietary tech product that we have an offer our agents that use big data, predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence.

David Marine: Every single business buzzword today packed into one platform that allows our agents to showcase where buyers for particular listing are likely to come from and even project what homes are likely to come on the market in the next six to 12 months. And I was talking to this guy and he’s like, hey, you sound like one of those new upstart brands in real estate and you’re the senior statesman. And so that was the remark that really hit me. It was like we are doing all of these forward-thinking things were advancing in the industry, but yet people aren’t always thinking of us in that way because we’re not one of the newer brands out there and I saw that as being twofold. One, it’s in how we’re showcasing ourselves, how we’re positioning ourselves in the marketplace, what’s the messaging that we’re using, and the other part is how we’re visually representing ourselves.

David Marine: So that to me was an eyeopener. They started hearing that type of comment from our own companies, our own agents and others. Then that’s when it was like, you know what? It’s really, this is the time, and we just started looking at it.

Gene Hammett: I want to get into how you’ve done that before we go there. I know you’re still in the middle of it and we’re just kind of talking about the process, but what is some of the benefits that you’ve seen from this within the communities that you serve?

David Marine: One is it opens up the dialogue and you’re getting that feedback from your network of how should we be looking at things. It’s forced us to go back to, to research and really assessing our own needs and what is working, what is not a, we did a ton of research within our own industry asking both thousand of our own agents in 600 competing agents on what is the positioning of the brand.

David Marine: And there were certain assumptions that we were making up. Oh, we’re clear this positioning ourselves this way within the marketplace. People understand that’s what Coldwell Banker is. Then we get this feedback and it would be like, oh no, we’re missing the mark there. We need to hit double down on that. Hinted a little bit harder. So that has been really helpful for me is getting, it’s really open myself and my eyes opened to how are we truly being seen and let’s get down to the roots and really what we need to do in order to improve our brand for the better and not just for today and tomorrow for the next hundred years.

Gene Hammett: Well, I appreciate you sharing that with us. I would like to go through the s if you could, cause I asked you to come back and say, you know, how did you do it? So what was one of the initial steps that you did in this journey?

David Marine: Well, once the inklings started to come up about like, hey, should we look at we do this, where should we even start is we brought in a broker focus group of about 10 different brokers from across the country, different shapes and sizes international as well. And we started asking them questions about what they thought about, not just our logo but about the brand as a whole. And one of the first questions we ask them is, can you tell us what the mission statement for Coldwell Banker and only one person. And we’ve asked literally hundreds of different people, hundreds of brokers, thousands of agents. Only one person could recite its data. And that says something. If it’s your mission statement should be core to who you are should, there should be a poster of it somewhere in some place, you know, think of the back of a postcard or whatever.

David Marine: And that was like, Hey, we what? We think this is what we stand for, but no one knows it, so, therefore, it is it really doing what wants to do. So start from there and then it was like, well, what about our core values? Well, we have our own core values in this market, and then this one’s different. So there wasn’t this overarching messaging that really spoke to the core of who the Coldwell or brand was that was resonating down to the local market. So that’s where it was like, all right, let’s start here. That was a true eye opener for me and that’s where we started was we look at how our mission and our core values and our targeting and how we can really reshape that to Seko banker on a path for success in the future.

Gene Hammett: Besides what you just shared with me, was there anything else that came out of it that was really surprising that was like, Oh, I’m glad we went through this.

David Marine: Yeah. One thing that’s surprising is how much a brand means to people and sometimes you just take it for granted. There’s often, there’s a conversation within the real estate community that’s been there for a decade or does a brand really matter? Is it just the agent is just a local company? Does what does a national real estate brand really do and how impact. I want you to start talking about changing something about a brand. All of a sudden you find that this brand needs a whole lot, a whole lot of people and sometimes they’re like, wait, what are you doing with my brand? It’s perfectly fine the way it is. But that really opened my eyes to as far as like, hey, this is a brand that people have a perception of and there’s an innate value to it that they’re proceeding. And that’s something truly special. Cause you can’t really say that about every brand that’s out there, especially within the real estate but with Kobeck or found man. There are consumers, there are agents, there are competitors who when they see the Coldwell Banker name, it means something to them and this is what they think it stands for. And it can be there for the positive or the negative. So now it’s my job to go about either reemphasizing that perception of it and shaping it for a future or addressing the needs.

Gene Hammett: So after the focus group, what were the next couple of steps that you took?

David Marine: Yeah, there’d all that feedback. And actually one of my best meetings that I’ve ever had here was a group of about 30 different people. Our marketing team from PR agencies, from advertising agencies and media companies gathering all this input together and basically sitting in a war room for a day and a half and just going over every minute detail. And we were debating the nuances of different words and phrases and what should our brand stand for and how can we make the biggest impact and how can we best support our 92,000 agents across the globe. And from there it’s where we really reshaped what is the brand story? Everything from our mission to our core values, who are differentiators to one of the passion points that really feed into it. What are the feeling and the essence that we want every single agent and office who joins the Coldwell Banker network to immediately embraced and added?

David Marine: That is where we came up with this new brand story and reshaping where we see the brand going in the future, but again, it’s not tearing everything down to this stuff. There’s a great analogy actually from one of the broker folks’ groups who said, it’s almost as if when you’re talking about the technology and the social media advancements that we’ve done within our industry, so it’s almost that we’ve redone the entire inside of our home, but we’ve forgotten to do the outside of our own and that needs a new fresh coat of paint, runs, new siding, new landscaping, and that’s what we’ve really been able to do. We appreciate that positioning of the callback or brand for the future.

Gene Hammett: While you had to use a metaphor around real estate, right houses or once you finished this war room, what did you do next?

David Marine: Then we started really getting down to brass tacks and riding out, okay, what is this mission? How’s it going to be memorable? I’ll give you an example, so our previous mission that no one could recite with speed, the trusted source of innovative real estate solutions, creating exceptional experiences for all we serve, which is a mouthful and it’s a lot of business buzzwords in there and no wonder, no one can recite it. I had to memorize it just for this podcast, but I, how do we reshape that and make it something that’s truly memorable, a truly different and that speaks to who call banker is and so we rephrase it to be simply three words to leave our mark. An extended version is we empower our people to leave their mark on the world of real estate and to what we’ve been doing for 113 years. It’s not changing who Coldwell Banker is. We’re the first real estate brand to guarantee our services in writing first with the code of ethics, you put the National Association realtors first with a real estate website first with international real estate apps and iPhone, Android.

David Marine: This goes on and on. I won’t bore you with that. But the idea of leaving our mark and reshaping real estate is something that has been core to who we are and now we’re just expressing that in a more memorable way. So from that, from the mission, the core values, we created a deck that really told this new brand story. We started going out and sharing it with different brokers, international master franchises, agents across the country, and we would share this with them and we’d say, there are two questions that I want you to answer at the end. One, does this still feel like callbacks that this doesn’t feel like an entirely different real estate brand that you don’t know exists? And then two, does it feel like it’s a step in the right directions and advancement of the brand? And from that we heard yes and still feels like call banker to it feels like a, however, the way you look in that logo, does it feel like what you just talked to me about? So then that was where we kind of got the impetus and the ball rolling. Okay. We’ve addressed the core of our needs and our messaging. Now it’s time for us to take the next step and look at how we address our visual identity.

Gene Hammett: So you did all of the languaging staff first before the visual identity?

David Marine: Oh, absolutely. We didn’t even show a visual of, of any changing of a logo or anything until we nailed all that other stuff down because we felt that whatever we came up with, we want it to be representative of that brand story. Cause that’s really the thing that’s not gonna change. Logos come and go. They change every single day. And I had conversations with my wife who’s not in marketing through this process and she can see me getting a little annoyed by something or a little, maybe a little stressed out and she’d say, you’re just changing the logo and what it, what does it mean? People do that every single day. And I was like, well yes that does happen. But once we had that story and that core in place, then we know that that’s really where everything else is going to come from. That your foundation is solid in other real estate analogy, then everything else is going to work out

Gene Hammett: Well, I want to ask you what was the hardest part of this process?

David Marine: It’s trying to implement change because change is changing is hard. Change is scary and not a lot of people like change, but there’s a need to continue to develop and what we found is that when you can showcase the story and you show the reasoning behind it and you have data to back it up, all of a sudden that change becomes more powerful and there’s a great part, as I saw how many people really love the Coldwell Banker brand who are within it or outside of it and making this change. It’s a step in the right direction for the right reasons. That feedback that you’re getting back will eventually turn from people who are true believers.

Gene Hammett: Well, I’m really interested in implementing change praise to this was this resistance inside the company resistance with your strategic partners and all the agents that you work with? Everyone.

David Marine: If it really was, it was across the board that wasn’t like, oh, it was just this group. The idea of changes is really, it’s frightened too. A lot of people and especially when something that’s been around for so long, we had the conversations within my office of like, should we really do this but do we really need to change anything? Is Everything okay the way it is? But change is necessary when you look at our industry and how fast things are changing, the need to continue to develop and move ahead. It’s actually been something Coldwell Banker has been doing across its entire lifetime, continued to find new ways to reinvent how to better serve our customers. And so this is just another step and one that hasn’t been touched in a really long time. But yeah, change is a hard thing for everyone, but it’s also why we took this approach of a rebrand number, calling a transparent rebrand.

David Marine: So it’s not that like, hey, everything has changed. Here it is. You’ve got a year to implement it. Instead, we took the approach of, Hey, here’s our new brand story. Here are a new logo and design that we are going to start testing in markets across this year and we’re going to do a full rebrand starting next year and you’ll have two years to implement it. So it allows people to plan last people to get used to it, to budget for it, which is always a big issue. She got a lot of yard signs and a lot of front yards out there, so it gave that person that time versus saying like, here it is now and you gotta deal with it.

Gene Hammett: Sounds like to me you’re kind of, we’re turning up the heat on the pot slowly.

David Marine: That’s it a little bit. We’ll get into a little simmer, finds him or there, then throw some ingredients in and before you know it, you’ve got a great little stu cook and at the end.

Gene Hammett: As opposed to just putting them into the frying pan.

David Marine: Exactly right.

Gene Hammett: When you think about this, what was the hardest part for you personally as a leader of a big change initiative?

David Marine: One of the scariest things was whatever this comes, whether for better, for worse, I’m the guy that’s at the head of this and my name is going, to be honest. So that’s also been a motivator, wanting to make sure that we’re putting the best work forward. The best story out there in the industry and something that, you know, 92,000 agents are gonna put their name next to our logo every single day. And so I need to put my name next to it first in order to be confident in that change and moving in the right directions. That was a daunting and a humbling experience to go through. So that’s been one of the things that stuck most in my mind.

Gene Hammett: Yeah, David, I want to recognize you on this, and this is a really good thing, but I studied fast-growing companies. I’ve talked about in my podcast so much, and I talked to these founders and CEOs. I’ve had over 300 conversations and one of the things that they say that drives them so fast is they have employees that take real ownership of the work and the client experience. What you’re describing to me right now as you took real ownership of this like it was a part of your success or the company’s success. We fail together, we win together and that is I think the epitome of having real ownership and in your role even though you’re not the quote-unquote founder of this company.

David Marine: Well thank you and I distinctly remember when it became official that we were going to head down this road that I called my team into a room and I said, hey, this is where you’ve heard rumors about this. We started, we’ve stopped on different points of time or maybe we’ll do this, maybe we won’t say this is a go and you have a unique opportunity here. There are very few people that get to reshape a brand that’s 113 years old that is a cornerstone of an industry as this type of legacy. And you are going to have a part to play in that and that’s going to feel daunting, but you should have a piece of ownership in reshaping this brand. So that’s something that personally I’ve taken on. And Pope, I’ve instilled that in my team as well.

Gene Hammett: Well I appreciate you sending that element of it because I think that they had to see your ownership first. They were going to take that kind of ownership and it really is a fantastic story. So I appreciate you being here. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you about around this that you feel like would be a value to our audience?

David Marine: Well, there’s I that you love to get tips and useful information for how optimum can approach whatever. And so in look, thinking about this rebranding and how to approach it for someone who may be looking at their own company, start thinking about what would I share to others and I came up with the road to rebranding requires three rights in Alaska are you have to do it for the right reasons. Don’t just do it because you think your logo is ugly and you want something prettier. I used to say for years that the old coal banker logo, it didn’t have to look cool. It just had to look right and that was it. They’re like, oh look, it’s called like that doesn’t matter. It looks right. So do it for the right reasons. We did research, tons of research focus groups, making sure that this was the right timing for the right decision.

David Marine: So first, the right reasons. Second is you make sure you have the right team in place. There are points in time that I didn’t have the right team in place in order to do this, and you can be saying, well, this area in whatever extra marketing is okay, but it’s not great. You need to make sure you have the right team in place, the right partners in place. I have fantastic agencies involved like some silted in partners who are helping you, the design GNS and helping with the PR side of things. The right partners make all the difference in the world. So make sure you have the right team in place. And then the third right is to make sure it’s the right timing. What are the market conditions, what are the highs and lows? What are your plans for the coming year, where this year goals for the next three to five years?

David Marine: How can that play into it? And all of that will help create a better road of success for when you’re implementing it. So you make your three rights and then your last left is that make sure that your doubts get left at the door. Once you make the decision to move ahead, there’s, you’re going to get a lot of questions. This is not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the feebleminded. It’s a tough road to go down and you need to make sure that you’re showing that you’re moving boldly in the right direction and you’ve got the data, you’ve got the resources and the right reasons behind it and that’s going to make it successful.

Gene Hammett: And I’m going to add in that have someone at the helm that takes real ownership.

David Marine: I’ll take that too.

Gene Hammett: David, thank you so much for being here and leaders in the trenches. Where can our audience find out more about the rebrand or what you guys are doing next?

David Marine: You can follow us on any of our social channels. That Coldwell Banker on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook and a ColdwellBanker.com where we’ll be showing regular posts on the progress of our rebranding and how it’s unleashing in some local markets the summer.

Gene Hammett: Well thanks for being here.

David Marine: Appreciate it, Gene.

Gene Hammett: Wow, what a great interview. I love that we got into the heart of this. The aspects around change are such important issues for us to understand and for them to be applicable for you as a leader. So make sure that you are looking for a change. And not resisting it. You’ve got to lean into that and you gotta have the courage and be bold. David said it very well, and I’m going to repeat it here. You want to make sure you’ve got the right time and the right research and the right people, but you’ve got to leave your doubts at the door. I got a little bit out of order, but you’ve gotten the point here. So if you’re having any questions about the change in your organization or as your leader, make sure you reach out to me at genehammett.com send me your question. I’d love to help you. Maybe I’ve got a resource for you, or maybe we can hop on a phone and have a conversation. As always, you can reach me at [email protected] And remember lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.


Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Reshape the Brand
  • Visual Identity
  • New Brand Story
  • Employees that Take Real Ownership
  • Ownership First



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