Story of a Beginning

“So she’s left with no roof on her house and the estate agent’s saying it’s not his problem. Well, you don’t leave an elderly lady with no roof, you don’t leave anyone without a roof, not in east London”. Neil Collins bristles at the memory that 20 years ago made him decide estate agents couldn’t be trusted and that he should do something about it. We’re sitting in the Nag’s Head just off Orford Road in Walthamstow with Paul West and Paula Benson, founders of London design and branding studio Form , who first met Neil in 2019 to chat about a rebrand for his estate agency Estates 17.

Posted on Thursday, September 2, 2021

Story of a Beginning

Artist and designer Paul West came to Neil's music-obsessed attention through Form’s design work for bands Depeche Mode, Everything But The Girl, Elbow, and the rebrand of Abbey Road Studios. 

Further inspiration came from Walthamstow alumnus William Morris, the innovator, benefactor and thought leader, who led Neil to the idea of putting his team’s creative and people-focussed spirit at the core of the business.

At first the team were troubled that as estate agents, a rebrand might somehow expect them to become ‘shouters’, another negative trope associated with estate agency, and they unanimously hated the idea of sounding fake. 

Paula, designer at Form and founder of “There’s always an opportunity to get your message out there, not by shouting but by being front of mind, being seen and being quietly committed to all you do and say, which Neil and the team absolutely are’. 

Paul: “When we first met Neil for a quiet chat he showed up with the whole team, that’s just what they’re like and organically, the meeting became a melting pot of ideas. 
These weren't people who were going to sit around a corporate table talking about ‘branding’. There is no branding with them, there is animated joined-up talking, trust, easy familiarity and the kind of sparky energy you normally find in an ad agency rather than an estate agency, all we had to do really was listen”.

As Jamie, Michael, Mirko, Charlie, Neil and Richard shared what they wanted to be like as people who deal in property, it became clear to the designers that this was more than a visual rebrand, it was a manifesto that riled against every cliche they hated about big business estate agency in east London.
The team were hungry for a visual look that represented their energy and honesty, and their view of the property market “It isn’t about houses, it’s about living.”
And so, as the world hunkered down in 2020, Form together with Neil and his team began building something new.

Jamie Bernstein enters the pub and runs into the first of many familiar faces, 
“Hey Jamie how’s it going, have you got a sec?” Jamie’s always got a sec. 
He’s a hurricane of ideas and Neil only encourages it. 

The Agency’s new name is Estates East, you might have seen the poster campaign around Walthamstow and Leyton, the new brand is colourful—inspired by the bold, creative and ever-evolving community of east London. 
Jamie still hasn’t got to us, there’s now a woman asking him about her sister’s buy to let situation.

Neil has worked with his current team for almost a decade, he enjoys seeing them grow with the business, some of them even branching out into interior design and marketing, and he sees this rebrand as a physical representation of their enthusiasm and loyalty.  Growth is about more than the number of offices here, the ambition is for Estates East to be a mechanism for local young people with the right attitude, to succeed.

Finally, Jamie joins us, unfazed by his journey to get here.
I ask him how it feels to take 20 minutes to cross a room, he starts off on a surprising tangent “The thing is I hate the fakeness of estate agents and the lazy culture of overcharging and taking advantage of a stressful situation for the sake of a sale.  What I like is people. And I like helping and using what I know to get them to where they’re going. That’s it really, that’s what we do. We’re close not corporate”

This blog won’t always be about Estates East—it’ll be something if they even run with this one. In the future, it’s going to be about you, about us, about the stories, the culturally rich backdrop of east London, the strange and fascinating process of living in bricks and mortar, and the sheer joy and excitement of occasionally throwing everything up in the air and changing it. 

Estates East is here. It’s this way forward.

Estates East Team

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