Established in 2005, Trulia is a “home and neighborhood site for homebuyers and renters”, providing not only the usual listings for properties available for sale and rent but adding a component of neighborhood-specific information like commute times, reported crime, schools, nearby businesses, and more. Based in San Francisco, CA, Trulia grew on its own, went public in 2012, and was acquired by competitor Zillow in 2015, but remains as its own independent brand. Doubling down on its neighborhood focus, Trulia last week introduced a new identity designed by DesignStudio.
We set out to become an online real estate destination that would give you more than the cross-streets, coordinates, or living room photos, and meet these deep-seated, emotional consumer needs around neighborhood. We crystallized these aspirations in a new belief and mission which functions as the North Star for the company, to help guide our actions at every level of the business and provide an unexpected, yet welcome, experience for our consumers.
Since buying homes is not something I do often, nor do I have that punishing urge to browse through listings I can’t afford as some people do, I couldn’t tell you the differences between any of the main real estate listings, be it Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, or Redfin. I didn’t even know Trulia was part of Zillow and the only relevant thing I can say about any of these is that I know Elizabeth Banks reps Realtor.com but that’s pretty much useless information. The point of this paragraph is that Trulia, recognizing the lack of distinction, is smartly doubling down on this whole “neighborhood” approach that even if other sites offer similar data, being known as the neighborhood-specific website can help Trulia become more of a conscious destination for users.
With our new mission, the old map marker logo was no longer relevant or representative of who we are as a brand. Our new logo embodies the idea that when diverse elements fit together in unexpected ways you create a sense of harmony and balance. We needed this logo to not just represent the sense of diversity and uniqueness that people love about their neighborhoods, but also be a modern symbol for the future of Trulia.
The wordmark is made up of different letterforms that juxtapose each other — the structural qualities of the ‘r’ the ‘l’ and the ‘i’, mixed in with the open, organic feeling of the ‘a’ and the smile of the ‘u’, are reminiscent of the old buildings, new shops, the art, the vibrancy of life, that are interspersed together in neighborhoods across the country. Our new logo ultimately represents the ideals and aspects of ‘neighborhood’ that we believe to be inherently genuine and human.
When creating a custom logo we wanted to represent the unique stories and personality that Trulia embodies, designing a wordmark logo that communicates the brand name confidently and distinctly. Custom characters echo the diversity found in our neighborhoods.
Any logo with a map marker icon is pretty much doomed to be interchangeable with any other logo that uses one, no matter how clever, relevant, or nicely executed. To boot, Trulia’s old map marker icon was, simply, lame. The color green was good, though, and in my mind it’s the one thing I associated with the brand — more than the marker — and I’m surprised they dropped the green altogether as it was a good differentiator between them and Zillow’s blue and Realtor.com’s red. The new logo is a custom geometric sans-slash-slab that starts to slowly break out of the completely pared-down geometric sans serif trend and imbues some quirks into the letterforms, like the notch on the “r” and the zig-zaggy structure of the “i”. It’s not a logo that I love but, at this point, anything that adds some personality to a wordmark gets my appreciation. And, as it happens, I do like the new logo. I wish the “u” had something — I’m not sure why it doesn’t have a stem as it would work better with the rest of the letters. Overall, though, it has just enough personality to eventually become a more recognizable wordmark.
We set out to shape a dynamic identity around the new brand strategy and values. We created a vibrant visual language inspired by map iconography and neighborhood geographies.
We designed bold, simple, and unique icons that evoke a charming quirkiness. The identity represents this diversity of dwellings, environments and amenities with a wide set of icons from highly functional to ultra expressive.
The identity then hinges heavily on a set of icons that can be used on their own, as a pattern, or in small combinations to create unique icons. They are cleverly divided in three categories that mange to abstractly capture different neighborhoods around the country — obviously not in a comprehensive way but enough to signal something like, say, condos on a hill near restaurants. The different neighborhood combos presented below are charming and the icons work great as a pattern. For launch, Trulia is using a house-heart-burst combo (shown directly above) as the main icon for the brand across social media and other platforms, pretty much overshadowing the new wordmark. I don’t know if this is good or bad and I don’t know if the goal is to eventually change the primary icon to another combination but, as it stands right now, that’s the new Trulia logo that most of the audience is beginning to associate with them. It might be hard to move out of this specific iconography lock-up or make the wordmark more recognizable — time will tell. In the meantime, though, I would give my kingdom for the heart to properly align with the roof of the house.
As part of the new brand identity, we developed an extensive color palette — from warm to fresh, and rich to neutral. These palette reflects the diversity found in Trulia’s communities and helps express the welcoming spirit of the brand. Each color has its own personality with custom names derived from famous neighborhoods across America. Beyond color, the identity system as a whole was designed to represent the uniqueness we each cherish about our neighborhoods.
The visual identity pairs seamlessly with Trulia’s custom designed font, Trulia Sans by Fontsmith. The fresh clean font presents boldly in color as well as in combination with iconography.
I like the new typeface but also I feel like there are a dozen other like it that could have been licensed. I’m not saying brands shouldn’t hire type designers to make cool proprietary typefaces — in fact, I think it’s the golden age for it — but it feels like all of them are so similar to each other.
Application-wise… things seem to be halfway there and it’s perhaps understandable given that these are render/prototypes/proof-of-concept but something is missing that ties this all as a cohesive identity, other than the peppering of icons and the typeface, which, not being that distinctive, doesn’t quite sell it all as coming from the same brand. The first image of the posters a short scroll above sort of starts to get into something interesting and unique — I think it’s the loose icons that don’t quite work as well for me but when they are put together, overlapping, that’s what could make them recognizable as Trulia’s thing.
Overall, I do think this is good and different enough from the usual blue/coral/purple colors and the faceless, charming human illustrations coming from every company in San Francisco. More importantly it does help define Trulia’s differentiation amongst its competitors by focusing on something no one would argue against: a good neighborhood.
Thanks to http://www.chapmanbettis.com/ for the tip.