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Perspectives

Airbnb: a symbol of belonging?

So Airbnb has a new symbol, a symbol of belonging. A hand drawn upside down heart with a person inside which is also an A. And in it is a big idea – that the rather earnest and drawn out introduction from the founding fathers of this rapidly growing and iconic travel, er sorry, ‘belonging’ brand, wanted to hit us right between the eyes, with its sense of meaning. Phew. Well, nice logo! Although I’m sure everyone who has drawn a squiggle will say, “I thought of that!” or “Hey, doesn’t it look like the Habitat logo?”. But then who am I to make claims like that? After all, Pearlfisher’s logo is in Helvetica Bold like countless other brands around the world. So, in the attempt to create something truly original, I sympathise with these deeply well meaning, highly successful and remunerated millennials and their quest for meaning and desire. I’m still looking for that.

Airbnb is a success story that should be celebrated – and boy did they tell us a few stories in the run up to launch of the logo. Before I was left with the overwhelming urge to shout, “just show us the frikkin logo!”, I was especially interested in the story about them having worked with many talented designers and the 2000 options they had to choose from. That bit was, unfortunately, cut short and overshadowed by nice videos of people being surprised by the interiors of the rooms.

So, do I like it? Well it’s better than the awful typeface they had before, but so much emphasis was put on just the logo and the endless iterations that can be drawn from it that I’m left thinking it’s just that: a logo, with endless iterations. Everything else about the brand expression seems to have been redesigned separately – including an enhanced website and improved user experience – but with the logo top left and not much of a brand expression connected to or from it. If I covered up the logo would I know it is an Airbnb website? Not sure. So I guess with my fleeting guest preview (along with the 14425 other people from 79 countries who had the honour to be invited into the home where it all started, where we whiled away 30 minutes listening to story telling, cute songs and folksy animations against a overall soundtrack of sentimentality), we will just have to wait and see how this brand identity rolls out further. I’d like to see more of how it creates a truly connected brand experience or if it is, just a logo with endless iterations of belonging.

One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to be too happy if I see a ‘Thank You’ guest chalk squiggle or graffiti on my door every time I Airbnb it.

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