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ONE PAINFUL LOGO

Founded in 1998, Rapid Realty ranks among the first real estate companies to employ a franchise model and already has 50 offices throughout New York City. The founder, Anthony Lolli, decided to get a tattoo of the logo, and was so inspired by it he encouraged his 800 employees to do the same. Getting inked will mean a 15% commission increase. So far, 40 employees have put their skin in the game.

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The logo itself departs from other realty logos with their images of houses, for sale signs, and picket fences. It is undeniably modern, an arrangement of two upper-case Rs. The letter forms are reminiscent of the former technology powerhouse TRW in the 1983 iteration of their logo. What was once cutting edge design for a technology company now finds its way into a realty franchise 15 years later. But something gets lost in the translation. The letterforms are joined in an awkward fashion. Their legs are distorted in a crude manner which contradicts the simplicity of the TRW R. And the result lacks simplicity and elegance. The letters are forced into a position into which they do not naturally flow. They grow feet, and not shapely ones at that. In another instance, an arm and hand grow out of it to perform a proper handshake with another organization.

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  Rapid Realty 1998 / TRW 1983

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Pain points

                                                  

And now, employees, under financial incentive, are branding their own bodies with this logo. Yes, these are tough economic times and a lot of people feel the pinch. And yes, I suppose laser removal is always a possibility. It is conceivable that some employees do indeed feel a strong sense of loyalty to Rapid Realty, but it is questionable how many employees would brand themselves with their company logo without incentive. The story about the tattoos was a media success and received significant local and national coverage online and on TV. Anyone who has seen the story will now recognize that logo. I don’t know what it has cost Lolli in commissions since his employees started getting the tattoos, but I’m sure the ROI was significant.

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Of course, the most famous example of a tribe so loyal to its brand that they used a company logo on their skin is Harley-Davidson owners of years past. And, admit it, the Harley-Davidson logo is a classic. The difference is that it was a spontaneous and authentic gesture among bikers. It was a true expression of loyalty and belonging to a brotherhood. Harley-Davidson offered no incentive although in time they did recognize the tribute. And these were the same bikers who later wore the logo upside down on their leather jackets as a sign of protest when Harley went more mass market, became what was perceived as a “poser” bike and betrayed the hardcore crowd that supported the brand for so many years.

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It’s very hard to imagine a realty franchise garnering the passion for their brand that Harley riders had, and I suppose Anthony Lolli realized this too. That’s why he felt he had to pay his employees to represent his brand on their bodies.

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