Hastings Estate Agents
Modernising an established estate agents for an evolving market place.
Hasting Estate Agents is an established independent agency, with a strong footing in the Tilehurst / West Reading area. Although well respected within the local area the company was beginning to see the scope of its customer base narrow and was starting loose ground to online competition, both locally and nationally. We were asked to assess Hastings’ current position and look at ways to strengthen and build on its position.
The first thing that became apparent was Hastings’ weakening position in the market place when compared against its main local and national online competitors. Local agents had modern brands, enticing shop fronts (online and offline) whilst national competition gave the kind of impersonal yet massive scope any independent could not. The overall look and feel of the Hastings brand lacked energy and inspiration, particularly online. Hastings’ branding was out of date and was in real danger of putting off a large group of potential customers, particularly in the younger, first time buyer sector. Important key selling points were not being communicated, in particular the company’s ‘above and beyond’, personal level of customer service as well as its unrivalled local knowledge.
The website itself reflected the somewhat stuffy feel of the branding. The site structure was clumsy and the content within was presented in a very uninspiring fashion. Text was hard to read and images of properties were small. The key selling points, as unfocussed as they were, were lost in pages of text heavy information, the imagery was generic, in contradiction to the overall site tone, and call to action points were uninviting meaning visitor to enquiry conversion was low. Although strictly speaking the website was mobile responsive, it was not displaying particularly well on mobile devices and bounce rates were high.
Outdated, unfocussed website and branding was negatively effecting Hastings.
After an in depth assessment of the site and overall branding we put together a strategy which was to be implemented with the key aim to modernise the company, identifying its strengths and use these to start to open up its market demographically. We would take the essence of the Hastings’ brand and modernise it, the result being a vibrant, identifiable identity, one that had clear messaging backed up by a contemporary, easy to manage website. As well as this we would create a toolbox of offline and online marketing assets, bringing a sense of consistency overall, creating a personality around the brand that reflected the friendly, personable ethos of the Hastings team. Finally we would work closely with our digital marketing partners to ensure the website would be found online by the right demographic.
It was clear what we had to do:
Update the brand message. Creating a vibrant brand toolkit, including logo, complete brand guidelines, business stationery, signage and shop front. Aim the branding as much at first time buyers as more experienced buyers.
Refine the messaging, playing on the strengths the company has over other agencies (i.e. the specific local knowledge, brilliant customer service, the personal touch). ‘We’re one of the neighbours”.
Build a Website that works as well on mobile as desktop. Creating a site architecture that is specifically designed to build confidence in the company and make the inquiry. The site is easily manageable and integrate with Right Move and Zoopla.
Create the Marketing toolkit that brings everything together, building on the key messaging, ‘We are local’, ‘We are friendly’, ‘We care’ etc. Thus positioning the company away from directly competing with the big chains and big online only agents and targeting the key demographic , the people who still want local expertise and good customer service.
New website, fully mobile optimized, inviting and easy to manage
We worked on the project, taking into account our assessment, digital marketing issues and implemented our strategy, liaising with the client at key points throughout the project. We worked closely with our digital marketing partners and Hastings to refine messaging that was reflected through the website and marketing assets. Hastings now have a very solid brand, which is consistent throughout all areas, from their signage and print advertising to social media and website design. The clear ‘We’re one of the neighbours’ style messaging ties in well with the overall brand strategy, company ethos and the vibrant visual identity appeals as well to the older local market as it does to younger first time buyers.
The website is fully modernised, tying into the branding visually whilst behind the scenes an easy to use yet powerful content management system keeps everything running. The website has a full search engine optimisation overhaul and links in, effortlessly with the key online property listing websites.
Hastings is now positioned to move forward, promoting the business confidently to a much wider audience. They now have a solid, instantly identifiable brand that is already beginning to stand out in the crowded market place. The investment Hastings put into overhauling their brand has laid the foundations for years to come. They now have a future proofed website and are clear where they it into the market, this frees them up to do what they do best.