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  • Mal McCallion

Purple Vain



Hubris: excessive self-confidence or pride.

 

The puff that accompanies Purplebricks’ recent marketing effort, “Own It”, is perhaps a perfect example of the above.

 

The design consultancy behind this campaign had decided that their client’s brand was ‘tired and neglected’ and that the solution was a new colour palette – yes, really – as part of its ‘moving identity’.

 

Alongside their bold reimagining of what purple is, the designers worked with leaders at PB to come up with a ‘core principle’ – “flipping estate agency in the customers’ favour”.

 

This ‘principle’ fails on at least two levels. Not only does it miss the eye-widening negative connotations of the word ‘flipping’ in an industry it really ought to understand, it also adds a jarring echo of the sinister, brainwashing mantra of uber-villain President Snow from the Hunger Games stories - “May the odds be forever in your favour.”

 

All this would be suitably comical, were it not for the fact that Purplebricks continues to convince some sellers to use them. This skews the market, damages people’s potential for getting the best price for their properties, delays and/or derails their futures whilst pretending that selling a home needs nothing more than a screen and a hollow catchphrase.

 

(It also knocks-on to others that have the misfortune to be caught in a property chain that features a PB transaction anywhere within it.)

 

There are signs, however, that homemovers are catching on. Screenshots from Purplebricks’ website show that its brag of being the ‘Highest-rated estate agent in the UK’ is unlikely to withstand an Advertising Standards Authority complaint – even the most cursory glance at Trustpilot, Feefo or Google shows many more agencies are (rightly) rated at well above PB’s 3.7 stars out of 5.



 They’re also finding it difficult to filter out the negative comments in reviews. On Purplebricks’ very own homepage, clients gripe about the glitchy app and the lack of local knowledge – and these are the ones that quite like them.

 

Hubris is spending time and money creating a ‘principle’ which makes genuine property professionals uneasy; it’s reworking a colour that is invisible to the naked eye; and then it’s wheeling the results out into the world confidently, whilst the service ratings crater and revenues dry up.

 

Purplebricks has repeatedly failed its customers, shareholders and the industry it operates in. It was sold for £1 last year, because that’s the most anyone would pay for it. As its new owners try and resuscitate the corpse one more time, do consider what they have prioritised with their tiny cash reserves – not on fixing their service, but on a miserable marketing campaign.

 

At the very least, this allocation of investment will hasten its further decline. After the damage that it has caused to so many people’s lives, it’s in no one’s interests for this purple zombie to continue lurching around our neighbourhoods any longer.

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