The magic of Fantastic Frank
As the sun returns to Sydney and we prepare for a long hot summer, we popped over to Europe to scan key property trends.
First up Stockholm, where we caught up with one of the founders of property brand Fantastic Frank. Tomas Backman runs a revolutionary real estate agency, that originated in Sweden and now also operates in Germany.
Founded in 2010 by Backman, Mattias Kardell and Sven Wallén, the brand takes a design approach to real estate. It employs the best designers, stylists and photographers, to make their residential property adverts into interior design ‘wet dreams’. The brand has a policy of making it sexy. Their ads don’t aim at mass-market penetration- rather they’re designed to appeal to just one person: the buyer. According to Backman, Fantastic Frank will sometimes spend an entire day styling one apartment.
“We saw a real gap in the real estate industry. No one took the design position. No one presented million euro apartments in the same sexy manner as the interior design magazines did. So we hired stylists and photographers from the advertising and fashion industries, and started to work. The rest is history.”
Fantastic Frank is now an aspirational lifestyle brand that’s going from strength-to-strength. So much more than just a real esate agency, they’re currently the darling of magazines like *Wallpaper & Kinfolk. Not hung up merely on vanity measures such as Facebook likes or Instagram followers, they measure success by returning clients and the stream of positive articles they receive.
“When we started off we spent an entire year just building the brand via social media. Now we sell everything we put on the market and reach record prices almost every time. We believe the reason is because we are true to the homes we sell. We don’t alter them with wide angles or standard home styling stuff. We’ve learned that the magic is in the details. We add just what is right, that detail that’s missing,” Backman says.
With head stylist Sofie Ganeva at the helm, Fantastic Frank has built its brand on measured, good taste. In terms of brand positioning it currently sits head and shoulders above its competitors. It has also found reception with new wave homebuyers in Stockholm who place a high value on quality design.
“In Stockholm apartments that have original details from the early 1950’s are by far the most popular. The quality back then was amazing. Wooden floors; tiled stoves and stucco walls. Also a balcony is probably the strongest kicker for the price. Stockholm people really like to renovate too. If the kitchen is ugly they say: “Great! I can still pay as much as if it was new, I just want to renovate it to put my own style to it with Carrera marble.”
Fantastic Frank has a vibrant business model. It’s one that invests heavily in aesthetics and has profited from the digital and visual age. Just a quick look at their Instagram confirms they’re an eye candy brand worth following.
“The photographers we use are real photographers, they do proper editorial, commercial, arty work. So they bring a lot of energy to the company,” Backman says.
Adding to their place in the design world, Fantastic Frank takes a firmly global outlook. All their agents speak English and they are open minded about where clients might be coming from. Berlin was a natural choice for their second office according to Backman who is quick to point out the city’s burgeoning property market, amazing vibe and cosmopolitan population.
Upwardly casual and perfectly irreverent, Fantastic Frank is a cool brand with a “stay humble – stay hard” work ethic. They challenge worn-out real estate stereotypes by focusing on good design.
“We don’t communicate like other real estate agents do. We don’t use wide angle images nor exclamation points. Normally real estate agents yell to get heard. We don’t yell. We put our energy into the presentation of the home that we’re selling. We always have a list of people who want to sell with us – that’s something you can achieve only with consistent and careful branding.”