As Luxury Presence’s VP of Design, Joana Koiller oversees our Product, Brand, and Marketing Designers, as well as our Creative Studio. Before joining the team, Joana worked for NYC design agencies, managed product design at top tech companies, and co-founded a nationally-recognized wine delivery business.
We sat down with Joana to hear her story—and get her expert insights and practical tips on how established luxury real estate agents can effectively rebrand their companies in today’s market.
What inspired you to pursue a career in real estate design and branding?
I’ve honed my Product Design skills at tech companies such as Airbnb, One Kings Lane, and Zappos, but I also have a background in branding and visual design. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to join Luxury Presence, I was excited by the chance to use design as a competitive edge and help real estate entrepreneurs shine.
My passion for real estate is rooted in my appreciation of architecture and design. I view a home as a seamless integration of art and function, where its design and style shape its functionality, atmosphere, and the lives of its inhabitants. I find it fascinating that real estate combines both the practicality of investment strategies and the aesthetic appeal of design.
Can you share some of the key elements and design principles that make a real estate brand successful?
A brand is more than just visual elements like logos, business cards, and color schemes. It encompasses every interaction a client has with your business, from the tone of your written communications to the quality of your customer service.
The key to creating an effective brand identity is ensuring that it accurately reflects your unique qualities and values. This can be challenging, as many business owners struggle to define what sets them apart.
To develop your brand identity, I suggest clarifying the following:
- What values and principles guide your business?
- What is your authentic voice and personality?
- Who is your target audience?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
These answers will serve as the foundation of your brand identity and inform all of your branding decisions moving forward.
Why is rebranding important for long-term success? And how do you balance the need to stay true to an established brand with the need to evolve?
The landscape of the real estate industry is always changing—and fast. The market changes, clients’ needs and expectations change, and marketing channels change. To stay relevant, businesses need to evolve, which often means a rebrand.
It’s common for brands to undergo rebranding efforts. Many well-known brands like Apple, Gucci, Starbucks, and Facebook/Meta have done this quite publicly.
To determine whether your brand identity needs a refresh, consider the following questions:
- Has your business evolved since you first established your brand?
- Are you still serving the same target audience?
- Has your unique selling point changed?
- Are there new challenges or opportunities you need to address?
- Does your brand still feel current and timeless?
- Most importantly, do you still feel a strong connection to your brand and what it represents?
If things have significantly changed since you first created your brand identity, it may be time for a refresh. This can range from minor tweaks to your logo and visual elements to a complete repositioning, but the goal is always to keep your brand relevant and meaningful. At Luxury Presence, we offer clients design refreshes or full brand and website revamps to ensure their online presence evolves alongside their business.
What role do customer research and data play in the design and branding process?
Branding and design involve both art and science, blending intuition, creativity, and taste with research and data. While research should not dictate the essence of your brand, it can provide valuable insights into how your brand is perceived by customers. For example, customer research can shed light on whether your brand is perceived as luxury if that is your target market.
Data can be used to track the progress of your brand by measuring the metrics you aim to improve and analyzing relevant touchpoints. For example, to increase your close rate in winning listings, improving your listing presentation may help. However, it is important to understand that building a strong brand takes time and consistent effort across multiple channels. Research shows that it takes an average of 15-20 touchpoints for a customer to go from being aware of your brand to considering engagement, up from 6-8 touchpoints a decade ago.
What real estate brands do you admire?
Ryan Serhant’s brand stands out for its authenticity and unique approach in the competitive Manhattan luxury market. He incorporates humor and quirkiness in his brand, which is a reflection of his own personal style. We had a great experience partnering with Ryan to co-develop a website course.
We also recently collaborated with Jade Mills to refresh her brand identity and website. The goal was to create a clean and elegant look while adding a touch of warmth and personality. The brand uses a neutral palette to highlight the stunning imagery of her properties and features Jade’s signature as her logo.
Another brand that showcases creativity and individuality is Carolwood Estates. What sets Carolwood apart is their decision to draw inspiration from timeless, luxury brands instead of benchmarking against other brokerages.
What are some favorite branding projects you’ve worked on recently?
We have seen a surge in the demand for real estate agents looking to invest in their branding, and in response, we have created a comprehensive Branding and Custom Website offering. Among our many successful projects, some of my personal favorites are The Malibu Life’s custom website, which perfectly captures a vintage beach vibe, Official Partners, where we focused on elegant typography and bold photography, and the brand identity projects we did for Liza Story and Kelly Jo Gonzalez.
How do you ensure consistency in design and messaging across all touchpoints?
Having a clear and consistent brand identity across all touchpoints is crucial for building brand awareness and establishing trust with your target audience. To ensure this, it’s important to have two key documents in place: a brand book and a voice and tone guide.
Your brand book serves as a comprehensive guide for all visual collateral, outlining the proper usage of your logo, colors, fonts, and images. A voice and tone guide details how you communicate, defining the attributes of your brand’s messaging.
Consistency is important because it takes multiple touchpoints with your target audience to move them from simply being aware of your brand to considering working with you. By ensuring that your visual assets and communication style are consistent, you help your audience understand your brand’s values and build a strong, trustworthy reputation.
How do you stay up to date on design trends and best practices?
To bring a fresh perspective to our design projects, I draw inspiration from a wide range of sources and encourage my team to do the same. During our weekly design team meetings, we start by sharing an interesting piece of art, artist, architect, or photographer that we have recently come across.
I use Pinterest as a tool to store and organize my inspirations, whether it be a work of art, an eye-catching fashion shoot, a captivating color palette, or an interesting texture. Understanding current trends and cultural phenomena are also crucial to staying ahead in the design world. Lately, I have been deeply immersed in the culture of Gen Z and experimenting with AI art, such as Mid Journey and Stable Diffusion, as well as 3D art.
This approach leads us to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions for our clients. For example, for our Global Collective, we created an exclusive 3D NFT that was specific to each of their respective markets.
What are some common rebranding mistakes that luxury real estate agents make?
The most frequent error real estate professionals make is undervaluing the significance of their brand. Creating a strong brand identity requires a substantial investment of both time and resources, and it can take time to see results. It’s especially crucial for those in the real estate industry to avoid skimping on their brand identity by opting for low-cost or do-it-yourself solutions.
Another common mistake is taking an overly literal approach when creating a logo. Too many real estate logos feature a house shape, which is very expected but does not effectively convey what makes that real estate professional unique.
How do you measure the success of a rebranding effort?
Building a brand requires patience and long-term commitment. Nevertheless, it is crucial to keep track of the metrics you want to improve. To help you measure the effectiveness of your branding efforts, it’s important to monitor both leading and lagging indicators.
- Awareness: Does your brand come to mind when your customers think about your industry? Are you top of mind for them?
- Competitiveness: How does your brand compare to your primary competitors in the eyes of your audience?
- Familiarity: Are prospective customers familiar with your services or products?
- Loyalty: How likely are your customers to choose your brand over others?
- Recommendation: How likely are your customers to recommend your brand to others?
- Reputation: What is your target audience saying about your brand? (You can gauge sentiment by analyzing social media conversations.)
- Social Following: The number of followers on your social media accounts
- Google Ranking: Your brand’s search engine ranking
- Website Traffic: The number of visits to your website and the average time spent on the site
- Website Leads: The number of leads generated from your website
- Paid Media Performance: The number of clicks and conversions from your paid media campaigns
What advice would you give to established luxury real estate agents considering a rebrand?
Developing a brand identity is a significant investment of both money and time, and it can be challenging to choose the right partner to work with. To ensure successful collaboration, consider the following factors:
- Industry Experience: Look for agencies or designers with experience in the real estate industry. They will have a better understanding of the space and what works for real estate brands.
- Portfolio: Assess an agency’s work by reviewing its portfolio. Make sure their style and design aesthetic align with your personal taste and the vision for your brand.
- Clear Brief: A successful brand identity should feel authentic to you. To ensure that your design partner has a clear understanding of your story and unique selling point, provide a clear brief and consider using a worksheet to help craft your story. Here’s an example of one we recently put together.
By considering these factors and making a well-informed decision, you increase your chances of developing a brand identity that accurately reflects your company and resonates with your target audience.
How do you ensure agents are comfortable and confident with their new brand identity?
We’re dedicated to making the process of creating or revitalizing a brand an enjoyable and memorable experience for our clients. To ensure that expectations are met, and there are no surprises, we start by clearly outlining the steps, process, and timeline involved.
The first stage of our process is the Design Brief, where our lead Designer sits down with the client to gain a deep understanding of their business, target market, personality, and unique selling point.
Next, we create mood boards to guide and inspire the direction of the brand. It’s essential to be open-minded and experiment with different ideas before honing in on the final proposal, which is achieved through collaboration with the client.
We understand the importance of having a comprehensive brand guide, which is why it’s included in our final deliverables. The guide clearly outlines the brand system so that it can be implemented consistently. Our Brand Package also includes custom website development. During this process, our Design Project Managers oversee the entire build-out and ensure the new branding is fully integrated.
To remain competitive—or gain a competitive edge—evolving your brand is one of the smartest things you can do. If you’re looking to level up your brand presence, reach out to our in-house creative team, who can craft your style guide, create your logo, and design a custom brand that brings your vision to life.