Brand Union


How do you go from best in class, to world class?

In a nutshell

When we began our relationship in 2014, CBRE had established itself as the biggest and best in commercial real estate, but the company had an ambition to transcend its category and become known as a truly world-class professional services organisation.

At the heart of this world-class aspiration was the brand, with the potential to be a strategic differentiator for winning new business, a beacon for attracting the best talent and a symbol of value to influencers and investors.

But the brand had become a latent asset: buried inside the organisation, and used with varying degrees of strategic and creative success. To tackle this challenge, Brand Union partnered with CBRE to bring the brand to life through powerful and consistent definition that serves as:

  • A mark of trust for CBRE’s clients, employees and shareholders
  • A source of inspiration to become better, uniting CBRE’s 55,000+ employees around the world
  • A filter for decision-making across the organisation

What we did

After extensive customer, competitor and category research, including 50 stakeholder and 20 key client interviews, Brand Union uncovered a key insight.

For many companies, real estate is an under-utilised asset that is perceived simply as a significant expense item. In reality, it is a valuable strategic asset with the potential and power to deliver transformational business value and drive bottom line performance.

At the heart of this insight lies the concept of advantage, which has become the foundation for an ownable, powerful brand positioning:

At CBRE, we transform real estate into real advantage.

To support the positioning, we determined the following proof point:

CBRE puts its perspectives, scale and connections to work to deliver exceptional outcomes through real estate solutions that drive value and growth.

The positioning was then translated to the brand tagline: Build on Advantage, an invitational message to CBRE stakeholders to realise the advantage of real estate.


350 CBRE offices in over 44 countries introduced simultaneously to the new brand through the internal launch (Dec 2014)


92 million people reached through print, digital, search and social media impressions (Nov 4-Dec 19 2015)


2-3x social media engagement rate compared to industry benchmarks on Twitter and LinkedIn (Nov 4-Dec 19 2015)

The Details

To announce the new positioning and identity to employees, we created a global internal communications campaign, featuring 30+ key case studies called “Real Stories of Advantage” and we also developed an Employee Value Proposition that defines the advantages a career at CBRE provides.

For the external launch, we created CBRE’s first-ever global advertising campaign, anchored by a manifesto-like message to the world that celebrated the advantage CBRE builds for its clients.

With these strategic foundations in place, we then refreshed CBRE’s visual identity by creating a more dynamic, ownable system that reflects the confidence and sophistication of the new brand. To inform and empower marketers across the globe, we built comprehensive user-centric guidelines and coordinated with a WPP agency partner to create an online brand portal to provide quick access to assets.

Additionally, we worked closely with the CBRE Research team to simplify outputs, reorganise the information architecture for individual report types, and dramatically refresh their look and feel.

Our engagement with Brand Union far surpasses the traditional client-agency relationship. Today they serve as a true brand steward for CBRE. The influence of their work can be felt across all geographies and business lines.

Paul Suchman, CMO of CBRE

The result

In December 2014, we planted a flag and established the brand. The internal campaign was launched simultaneously across 350+ offices in over 44 countries. It was supported by an employee microsite that explained the brand positioning and asked employees to share their own stories of advantage. Over 19,000 visited the site on launch day alone. Externally, we launched a bold, headline-driven cross-channel campaign that through print advertising achieved 10.1 million global impressions and a 4.6% engagement rate on Twitter, earning CBRE the title of the “most engaging and active B2B brand on Twitter” for that period.

The following year, we adapted the campaign, crafting audience-specific headlines to speak to our occupier and investor audiences. Through print, digital and social channels the campaign successfully reached 92.2 million people and CBRE content saw 2-3x the engagement rate compared to industry benchmarks on Twitter and LinkedIn (Nov 4 – Dec 19 2015).

If our brand positioning is the guide that unifies and pushes our organization forward, the refreshed brand guidelines that Brand Union helped us develop is the work horse that supports our day-to-day efforts and ensures our brand is brought to life accurately and in the most creative way possible.

Andy Garrett, Senior Director of Global Marketing