CBRE’s Global Brand Re-Positioning: Build on Advantage

Chances are you have a seen a CBRE “for sale” or “for lease” sign during the course of your day whether you’ve realized it or not. For the average person, this is perhaps the first and most recognizable brand touch point of CBRE’s, which is the world’s largest fully integrated commercial real estate services firm.

For sale sign at subject site

As a company with 44,000 employees and over 350 offices in 60 countries, CBRE not only leases and sells, but manages the vast majority of commercial real estate properties across the globe, whether that be a high-rise office building in Taiwan, a retail mall in London, or an industrial park just outside of Los Angeles.

Would you believe until recently, CBRE did not have a Chief Marketing Officer? Within the past year, CBRE brought on a CMO who has worked closely with the agency Brand Union to research, uncover, and deliver a new strategic brand position. As described in this AdAge article by CBRE’s CMO Paul Suchman that outlines the full-scale marketing effort:

Commercial real estate is not typically a marketing-driven industry. Historically, the company has gone to market on a functional platform. We set out on a journey to make our brand a business differentiator.

In recent years, CBRE’s brand has been brought to life through various methods, including top notch videos; an active presence on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook; a marked increase in content marketing efforts, such as through the premier variety of reports generated by CBRE’s Research division; and through strategies like CBRE’s corporate responsibility efforts that underscore credibility for the company on a variety of levels. (Click here to read why this is important.)

CBRE’s Brand Repositioning Process

A recent brand audit unveiled that for most companies and clients who work with CBRE, real estate is perceived as little more than a line item. But CBRE wanted to change that. As such, the company set out to further differentiate itself from its competitors by uncovering its strategic position in the marketplace and then building on the concept of “advantage.”

CBRE_Brand_ImageThe CBRE Advantage

CBRE’s advantage is defined as follows:

  • “For our clients, we deliver sustainable, competitive advantage through solutions that unlock the value of real estate.”
  • “For our shareholders, we deliver financial advantage by producing results that create long‑term value.”
  • “For the best and brightest global talent, we offer professional advantage, providing the industry’s best platform and a place to build a long‑term career.”

According to the company’s CEO Bob Sulentic: “With our new positioning, we’ve created an organizing principle for the brand that supports our core strategy of producing distinct advantages for all our stakeholders.”

Similar to how IGT rolled out their global rebrand back in 2013, CBRE has followed a similar path by moving through the process of:

  1. Defining a strategic foundation
  2. Developing the visual identity
  3. Developing a creative platform
  4. Engaging employees, and
  5. Experience alignment

While still in the beginning stages of the rollout, thus far CBRE has shared key pieces of information about the repositioning effort through a dedicated microsite, an internal email campaign across 350 global offices, and its social media channels (#buildonadvantage). Ads have also appeared in business publications in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, and Australia, and will continue through 2015.

In short, the company has moved from the functional approach of simply telling people about who CBRE is (world’s largest full service commercial real estate firm), to a more proactive, brand-focused approach of telling the world about not only how it delivers advantage, but how it wishes to operate.

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