A brand is a living entity – it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” -Michael Eisner
An estate brand is both an ideology and a physical manifestation of aesthetic, design, and service. It’s up to the estate management team to effectively represent the intended reputation or expectations of the home; in essence, to deliver on the estate’s brand.
Many estate names are inherited; passed on through generations. Their crests have become iconic symbols of their inhabitants and the colorful events and experiences held within. Monticello, the Biltmore Estate, and the Playboy Mansion all bring to mind specific archetypes. In some cases, families choose to start new chapters and rename their holdings to suit their personality or purpose. A past client, with a great sense of humor, purchased a 7,000 acre ranch in Northern New Mexico and dubbed it ‘El Rancho de Macho Grande’… which translates to The Big Man’s Ranch. Another named her home ‘Chateau Ensoleillement’ – ‘Castle Sunshine’.
If the property did not come with a title and crest intact, translating a feeling into a font and logo is often best accomplished with the help of a professional designer. Meet with your employer and start culling photos of the property and list keywords that evoke the types of events and occasions that occur. Sift through magazines and pull ads that have the same feeling you’re going for. Identify some of the colors of the home and interiors that would translate well. Once you have an ‘inspiration board,’ a designer can create graphic design concepts for you.
A traditional way to present an estate brand is via monogrammed, embroidered, or printed brand collaterals. A house staff is clearly identified by their logo uniforms. A cocktail party isn’t complete without the finishing touch of foil stamped napkins, nor should any invitation to such an event go out on anything less than official estate stationery. Embroidered sheets, guest towels, robes, and glassware are also great ways to set the tone for the estate.
Coming up with a name can be a huge responsibility. In many cases, it’s permanent, and will establish the estate’s reputation for generations to come. When brainstorming a name, here are some types of names often used:
- Owners’ names: Biltmore Estate, Hearst Castle, and the Eames House let you know exactly whose bell you will be ringing
- Evocative names: Names that evoke a relevant vivid image like The Breakers or Fallingwaters give a sense of expectation to the surroundings
- Geographic names: The Dupont’s Nemors in Delaware is named for the north central French town affiliated with his great-great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemoursamlet, and the Vanderbilt’s Hyde Park, simply named for its prominent New York hamlet
- Foreign words: Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue’s El Fureidis (translates to Little Paradise; now owned by Sergey Grishin), and Rockefeller’s “Kykuit“, (Dutch for “lookout”) are examples
- Acronym & Initialisms: The Famouse Filoli Estate in Woodside, CA is an acronym formed by combining the first two letters from the key words of William Bourn’s credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” and Otto Kahn’s Long Island Estate ‘Oheka’ is derived from Otto Hermann Kahn
- Idealistic names: Graceland, and Neverland both represented the fantasy ideals of their owners
- Nick names: Like the above mentioned Rancho de Macho Grande, or a boating friend’s aptly named Pirate’s Rest, nick names embody the spirit of the owner
Old or new, fun or formal, the estate brand tells the world what’s important to the household and the type of experience they may expect.