On Wednesday evening, Airbnb announced a complete brand refresh, with a new logo, typeface, and colour palette; forging a new company direction based around a central theme of ‘belonging’.
A lot has been said about the new logo on various blogs and social networks, slating it for the fact it looks similar to the logo for ‘Automation Anywhere’, a tech company specialising in automating tasks. The Airbnb company logo has been compared to all sorts of things, ranging from a bear’s face, to … well; let’s just say some people have quite a wild imagination.
However, all this negative attention is completely missing the point. Let me explain…
Airbnb was formed in 2008 as a digital start-up, initially described as ‘air bed and breakfast’ – a service that allowed likeminded backpackers to crash at a person’s place for a low price when on their travels.
Since then, the company has experienced truly astonishing growth and the numbers for the last 3 years alone are incredible. Airbnb now serve 4 x as many customers as it did in 2011, with the total now standing at over 15 million, across 190 countries worldwide.
Airbnb now serves four times as many customers as it did in 2011.
Airbnb have called the logo the ‘belo’ - “A symbol for belonging, wherever you see this mark, you know you are home”. This is maybe a little over-sentimental, but the message is strong with good intentions. The imagery, brand presentation film, and video content on their website reinforce this message. The Airbnb service offers a customer person to person contact with their host, which promotes memorable, genuine experiences based around human interaction. This quality, and the fact that on the whole, a fairly low price can be found when using the service, is what draws people to booking through the website.
If you cut through the noise that has been made over the past couple of days about the logo, it is clear that this company has made a bold step in their public journey, cementing their ambitions and reputation as a serious corporation with plans to capitalise on their rapid growth under the banner of a strong, meaningful brand identity. The basis to the brand allows the company to challenge and disrupt existing sectors. If a consumer can access accommodation for a low price, with an almost bespoke service when staying with their host, it’s a compelling proposition. Which is why the company has disrupted the norm, and challenged the travel industry. Now they have drawn their line in the sand so to speak, the company still has huge potential and who knows, we may see airbnb revolutionise various ‘accommodation’ sectors, be it holiday, or private rental. We may even see like-minded competitors springing up, eventually killing off traditional letting agents.
The basis to the brand allows the company to challenge and disrupt existing sectors
Airbnb, amongst other businesses that use a similar model, speak of a greater happening beyond a so-called 'poorly designed logo.' What we’ve seen in the past 2 or 3 years is services cropping up that challenge the ordinary. More recently, the mini cab service ‘Uber’ has come into the spotlight. It too received negative attention, based around a technicality of the app being used as a taxi ‘meter’ which under current rules is illegal. It’s a shame that this is the case, as digital products and services are enhancing customer experiences, making the buying process simpler and more efficient, placing user needs first.
Digital platforms promote innovation. It is an exciting time to be involved in the sector, with new apps, and services cropping up all the time. A new digital platform ‘Task Rabbit’ allows a user to hire someone, based on their skillset for an agreed price, date, and time. This is almost the ‘eBay’ of consumer services – you are speaking directly to those who you will buy the service from. Once a transaction is complete, the person who completed the work is then rated with a feedback score, which promotes positive online community engagement. This is why digital services such as Airbnb, Uber, and Task Rabbit are really shaking up the industry. Negating the need for a middleman, the consumer is dealing directly with the merchant, or service provider.
It will be interesting to see the journey that Airbnb will take over the coming years, forget any logo or brand based issues, this company amongst its disruptive counterparts, are here to stay.