Red Knot Real Estate Logo and Branding
Avoiding clichés like the plague
As evidenced by her glowing reviews and a Realtor of the Year Award, Denise Pitzman was already an accomplished real-estate professional when she and her husband decided to launch their own agency in Homer, Alaska. Denise and Gordon didn’t simply want Red Knot Real Estate to feel a little different than other agencies in the region—they wanted branding that would truly separate them in the marketplace.
Helping with that was the fact that both Denise and Gordon were already well known in their community and trusted by their neighbors. But even so, as a new firm, Red Knot would need to quickly project its legitimacy and expertise to home buyers, home sellers, homeowners who might be in the market down the road, and other audiences.
The couple connected with Chalkbox largely because of their desire to do things differently—they specifically searched for a design firm outside of the local market in order to get a unique perspective. (Our work for this Seattle real-estate agency might have helped them choose us, too.)
Houses and doors and bears, oh my!
We knew it would be important to avoid the overused tropes that are so prevalent in the real-estate industry—houses, doors, and the like wouldn’t work to differentiate the agency. But Red Knot also wanted to steer clear of mountains, trees, bears, salmon, and other Alaska clichés.
Another challenge was creating an identity flexible enough to speak to the audiences Red Knot will serve over the coming years. In the short term, that means clients 50 and older who typically have bought and sold homes in Alaska before. In the long term, however, Red Knot likely will need to serve a broader audience, including out-of-state buyers and adult children helping parents sell the family home.
Finally, it was important to consider some local factors: The logo and type choice had to be readable in the low light of an Alaskan winter, during snowstorms, and on reflective sign surfaces.
Same old, same old
When we researched Red Knot’s competition and industry, we found clichés everywhere: Regional competitors had a lot of the common Alaska-style imagery, while national firms we looked at had a lot of not-very-notable designs featuring houses. The ones that stood out were simple and easy to understand, serious, practical, and refined. Selling or buying a home is a big deal—projecting expertise is important, and brands on the upper end of the spectrum do this well. Our goal was to position Red Knot in that realm.
As we started sketching, we focused on nautical themes, abstractions of seabirds, and custom typography. Working with Denise and Gordon, we narrowed our focus until a simple, iconic image found its way to the front of the line.
Very intentionally, we hadn’t started with the Red Knot, a seabird common in Homer—it seemed a bit too on the nose (or on the beak, as it were). We believe that to find the right identity, you need to explore well beyond the obvious. Ultimately, though, the bird became the right choice for Red Knot Real Estate.
Iconic and inviting
The logo and brand system includes an iconic, simplified seabird, along with typography that reflects the working-class roots of Homer and the nautical history of the Pitzman name: Gordon, raised in the area, has been a commercial fisherman, owned and operated a water-taxi business, and currently has a fishing operation in Bristol Bay on his boat (naturally, it’s named Red Knot).
The type has nice open counters (the spaces inside the letters), helping it read well at a glance and in low-light situations. Additionally, a coiled-rope form, used as an accent element, serves as a nod to nautical history while representing organization and focus—precisely what you want from a real-estate agency when you’re making one of the biggest transactions of your life.
Overall, it’s a substantial, serious mark, yet accessible and soft around the edges. Visually unique, the colors are bright and energetic without feeling over the top. It’s easy to understand at a glance, but closer inspection reveals further rewards.
‘Professional and legitimate’
“I believe our business has a strong identity that stands out much more thanks to Chalkbox—their work makes Red Knot Real Estate feel professional and legitimate,” Gordon says. “Josh and his team are personable, fun, and easy to work with. Denise and I were very happy throughout the entire process.”