PS! Since launching our new web design – January 26, 2018 – we are now fixing bugs, streamlining the design, improving load speed and in the process of implementing new features.
A good friend of mine, the late Barry Lefkowitch, was a brilliant marketer and on a day in June 2013 while Barry, our wives and I were having one of our many great evenings together, I asked him to help out with some name ideas for my soon to launch real estate brokerage.
I recall having a hard time getting his focus and I told him “Barry, come on, can you focus for a few minutes and get me some ideas.” Barry would have his head spinning for a few minutes and then he said “Honolulu HI 5”. I went “what?”. Barry went on “Honolulu HI 5. ‘HI’ is our state, ‘HI 5’ like a ‘high five’ and the ‘I’ in ‘HI’ is your high-rise condo in Honolulu, which will be your business focus.” I loved it, discussed it with George – my to be Principal Broker – and he was excited too and that was the beginning of Honolulu HI 5.
Within a short period of time, Honolulu HI 5 became a well known name for Oahu real estate, but the name didn’t quite have the impact we had hoped for. For instance:
1) The “HI 5” play on words didn’t resonate and ‘click’ the way we had hoped. Once we explained our intentions people would ‘get it’ and smile, but that didn’t do a whole lot for our branding.
2) There is a rental agency using “Hawaii” and the number “5” in their name and that added some confusion with people thinking we were related, others thinking we were “Hawaii HI 5” or simply “HI 5”.
3) We don’t sell real estate in Honolulu only, but across Oahu, and using the name “Honolulu” didn’t do a whole lot for our branding outside the city of Honolulu.
4) HI-5 is a large recycle company in Hawaii and the similarity in name wasn’t ideal.
I would on and off think about possibly rebranding with a new company name, but struggled to come up with a name that I really believed would be so much better for our business. That was, until a summer day year 2017, I thought of Hawaii Living – not Hawaii Living Real Estate or anything more elaborate, but just Hawaii Living.
I rushed to GoDaddy (website where one can purchase domains) and ran a search for hawaiiliving.com. To my great surprise the domain was listed for sale. It was, however, a premium domain – domain owned by someone else – and it wasn’t cheap. Continuing my search, I jumped to DCCA’a Business Registration Division website and ran a search for “Hawaii Living” and both the trade name and the entity name were available.
Some company listed in a category of “Broadcast / Print Media” held the rights to the “Hawaii Living” trade name several years ago, but it had expired year 2009. Since then Hawaii Living had just been sitting there untouched – I couldn’t believe it!
I reached out to George to discuss the possible new name idea and he was clearly as excited as I, but in conclusion he felt it was too much money to acquire the domain and suggested I hold off.
I did hold off, but only for 1 day! Hawaii Living felt so right to me, I couldn’t think of a better name for our real estate brokerage and my gut instinct told me I should go for it. I gave Michelle a call and she was super excited about this possible name change.
Without further contemplation I purchased the domain, hawaiiliving.com, applied for the trade name, Hawaii Living, and the entity name change – from Honolulu HI 5 LLC to Hawaii Living LLC. Applications went through and late September 2017 we moved our website from honoluluhi5.com to hawaiiliving.com and started operating as Hawaii Living.
Just like I had thought about rebranding under a different company name for a while, I also felt, for quite some time, our website could use a new lighter look with content organized in a more meaningful way for our users.
It was about offering a cleaner site that was visually more engaging, doing a better job highlighting what users are looking for and uncluttering various sections of the site. For instance, now we show more statistics in graphs (as opposed to writing about stats), cut out statistics that we weren’t very relevant for most users, highlight more MLS thumbs higher on the page for PC users, show multiple photos at a time on each property page for PC users, reorganize how information on each property page is displayed and more.
Here are a few Before and After Photos
The new web design launched January 26, 2018.
Everyone on the Hawaii Living team wanted us to have a logo that was memorable and had a ‘whow’ factor – something different and unique. I decided to launch a logo competition project on designcrowd, since that was a great way for us to get a variety of ideas and figure out what we really wanted.
Logo designs were pouring in and within 10 days we had over 300 different logo submissions from more than 100 different designers. I shared the ideas with the team and I was personally a bit confused looking at all these options, though George was very quick and clear that the H bubble logo was the winner. I digested it and I could see George was right. There was something magical about the logo. I pulled the trigger – late September 2017 – and the bubble H became our logo.
PS! The awesome logo designer, behind of new logo, is from Sri Lanka. On DesignCrowd he goes by name SL Designer. You can find him right here.
That’s our rebranding story in brief. It has been a lot of work, but I am pleased with the outcome and hope you, our site user, appreciate some of the changes.
What do you think? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. It is always valuable to hear a perspective from the outside!