Airbnb rebranded earlier this summer and it was pretty hard to miss, at one point generating enough hundreds of thousands of tweets to top the global trends (partly due to its similarity to an existing company logo).

Recently I listened to some of the guys from DesignStudio, the agency behind the rebrand, talking about the joys and stresses of such a monumental project.

I thought I'd share some tidbits from their presentation and discuss what a brand and a logo means, as well as how one should go about changing it. I'll be concentrating on the creative side of the brief, as opposed to equally important considerations for those in the same boat, such as SEO (if you're picking a new name or slogan) etc.

So, what did a creative rebrand of Airbnb entail?

For more creative and branding stories, check out the Festival of Marketing, November 12-13th in London.

What exactly is a brand?

Jeff Bezos famously said "Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room."

Indeed, a brand is often talked about not as a particular product but as how customers feel about that product or service. This was an important philosophy for getting to the root of the Airbnb brand.

The agency staff immersed themselves in the Airbnb experience, not just with Airbnb staff but with hosts and travellers. It was this immersion that resulted in the creation of a range of media - photographs, film, a printed book and on.

Slogan, somewhere

Abridging a comment from one of the Airbnb staffers resulted in the slogan 'Belong, anywhere', which sums up the experience for Airbnbers.

This slogan informed the logo design, neatly summed up in the GIF below.

airbnb logo creation 

Check out the new logo's showreel on YouTube and Instagram Video below, then we'll discuss a few more bits of the rebrand.

instagram video airbnb 

The benefits of a symbol as logo

The guys at DesignStudio talked of their belief in symbolism when it comes to logos. Putting it simply, the advantage of this is having a logo that 'people can draw with their big toe in the sand'.

It's fairly obvious why this would be a good thing. For a start, in a social age and for Airbnb (the most social of services, both online and off-), the voice of the crowd is all important. The crowd will not only be online advocates of the service but will also perhaps create content for Airbnb.

Whether this is done by hosts or guests, it's obvious that an easily drawn logo will be more fecund than something complicated.

People will recreate a simple logo and spread it more readily. In fact, to demonstrate this, the guys at the agency added a fake Instagram account to their portfolio, showing what this new logo would be like in the wild. The similarity between this staged account and some of the resultant social activity after launch is clear.

airbnb logo instagram 

To increase this activity, Airbnb has created a microsite to encourage hosts and guests to take ownership of the new logo.

The website gives some of the background on the logo change and how it encapsulates the spirit of the Airbnb experience. It also expounds the new platform, which is more social and focuses on stories and adventures, not merely selecting a location to visit, as one would with a hotel site or an aggregator.

There's a tool, too, allowing users to create their own logo to share online, print etc. Click through to try it.

airbnb logo creator

A logo in physical space

The symbol has further benefits in its physical form. Airbnb is using it for a range of merchandise to help out its hosts, from keyrings to stickers for indicating communal food to stamps.

airbnb merch

There's also a sculpture at Airbnb HQ.

Fonts and colours

The reddish tone of the new Airbnb logo is not the norm for Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley Blue was always the norm, think Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc.

Indeed, Airbnb was blue before it rebranded.

However, red is a colour of passion and is much more associated with a great holiday than the colour blue. Additionally, red is a very lucky colour in certain countries such as China. Red was a better choice for a global company.

Font, too, was something that needed considering when redesigning the platform for desktop and mobile. Creating fonts that would work with the design of the website for all languages, including those with different alphabets, such as Korean, was another important area for consideration. User experience should be consistent no mater what language one selects.

The platform

Taking a look at the newly revamped Airbnb website, the focus is much more on the experience. As mentioned previously, the beginning point for a user is no longer punching in a destination. This previously accounted for much of the bounce rate, as users were investigating and perhaps didn't have a destination in mind already.

Now the website focuses on a whole wealth of opportunities - people, places, experiences. There's a renewed focused, too, on photography, often taken by hosts and travellers themselves.

Full details of changes are listed here, with better listings of amenities and neighbourhood features.


There was lots more besides in the rebranding process, but I thought I'd bring you these tidbits.

As always, if you have any thoughts, note them below in our comments section.

Ben Davis

Published 18 August, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)


Andy Freist

I really enjoyed reading all the ins and out about Air BnB's rebranding process and all the decisions that resulted in their current look.

When i first saw their new logo I admittedly felt a little unimpressed, but after reading about it and understanding their design decisions that quickly changed.

Not to mention all the great press they are getting about the change itself..

Good on ya Air Bnb.

about 4 years ago



Agree with Andy - a lot of clever thought behind what is apparently a very simple logo. That's good branding.

When I very first saw it the thing that struck me immediately, which I haven't seen discussion of anywhere, is it's similarity to the LK BSI Kite Mark ( That, in the tourism market where trust is key, in an originating market geared for decades to protected tour op packages, and especially important in this non-bonded home stay market, is canny. Whether intended or not!

about 4 years ago


Paul Thorley, Group Head of Online Marketing at Investec

Really interesting journey for creating the new branding. But begs the question, if it's not broken, why fix it?

almost 4 years ago


Larner Caleb, Creative Director at Jump Response

Loved everything about the branding at the time, but above all, the cast-iron rationale behind it, as mentioned here

I'm not one for explaining every little detail to a client during any brand work we do, but if you can show good reasons for why you did certain things, it helps the brand owners massively in being more objective about their ultimate decisions. Apart from that, Airbinb's post launch rationale was not only informative, but entertaining, too.

Nice work on the extra insight, Ben, thanks.

over 3 years ago

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