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.
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.
Check out the new logo’s showreel on YouTube and Instagram Video below, then we’ll discuss a few more bits of the rebrand.
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.
— Adam Gallagher (@IamGALLA) July 29, 2014
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.
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.
There’s also a sculpture at Airbnb HQ.
— Shidume Lozada (@shidume) July 16, 2014
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.
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.