DesignStudio rebrands Airbnb

Lettings website Airbnb launched a new brand identity today, created by London agency Design Studio. The new look sees the brand’s blue and white word marque replaced with a universal “symbol of belonging”…

Lettings website Airbnb launched a new brand identity today, created by London agency DesignStudio. The new look sees the brand’s blue and white word marque replaced with, apparently, a universal “symbol of belonging”…

In 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky launched Airbnb after renting out mattresses in their San Francisco apartment during a design conference. Today, it’s worth $10 billion, hosts listings in 34,000 cities and claims to have helped house more than 15 million guests.

The brand’s identity has gone through several evolutions – its blue and white word marque has been shortened, flattened and changed from sans to italic script – but so far, it has remained fairly unremarkable. As graphic design lead Andrew Schapiro explains, it was created without a real understanding of what Airbnb was about.

 

Around a year ago, the company recruited London agency DesignStudio to help redefine Airbnb’s ethos and create a new visual identity “that would last for years to come”. The new look launched today and as well as a new colour palette and bespoke typeface, it features a dramatically different logo.

Airbnb says the symbol represents a sense of belonging, which reflects its new message, ‘belong anywhere.’ As the graphics below illustrate, it’s, we are told, inspired by the idea of people, love, places and the ‘A’ in Airbnb.

 

Two versions of the marque have been designed – one, known as Belo, which is reserved for official communications, and a looser ‘community marque’ which internet users can share and customise. The brand has also launched an interactive tool, Create, which allows users to create unique illustrations using the marque.

 

 

DesignStudio’s James Greenfield says the concept was inspired by German designer Kurt Wiedeman’s theory that a great logo “is ‘something you can draw in the sand with your toe’”. It was created with help from semiotics agency Sign Salad, which researched whether the marque had any undesirable connotations in key markets such as Asia and South America.

 

As Greenfield points out, creating a universal symbol is a tough challenge – “it needed to be something simple and beautiful, but there are books full of symbols that already exist…we also needed something that would work on a bag as well as a billboard,” he explains.

 

The identity will be applied to a new website and mobile app (below) and used in ad campaigns and communications. The brand’s signature shade of blue has been replaced with a deep red, which Greenfield says better represents a sense of love and emotion, and Design Studio has developed a secondary palette featuring bold shades of purple and teal, named after and inspired by streets in cities around the world.

DesignStudio has also art directed a brand film, and worked with Airbnb’s art director to create photography and illustration guidelines and an image library.

 

 

It’s an impressive piece of work from DesignStudio: as well as developing the image library and photography principles, they’ve designed a rather lovely brand book and online guidelines that will be updated regularly, allowing teams in global offices to produce creative in-house.

Inviting internet users to customise the new Airbnb logo will undoubtedly lead to some misuse (some have already likened it to a pair of buttocks, or testicles), but the company says it’s happy for people to do what they like with it, and allowing people to create and share their own versions is a great way to generate some added publicity for the rebrand.

  • JMeriwether

    Not impressed with the Airbnb live stream event at all. By the end, it had become one big infomercial promoting merchandise and a harsh grab at free advertising. Congrats to Airbnb on getting a logo and overhauling the site, because they needed that, but if they wanted their customers to do more promoting for them, they really should have just been honest about it. (They also should have had someone design a better logo… the color is awful and the design has been labeled a “sexual Rorschach test” by Gizmodo.) Dressing it up as some big peace/love/unity thing and expecting the customer not to notice what they did, well, I guess they think we’re stupid. (Or their ad/marketing/design firms do.) If they wanted us to help promote the brand, they could have just asked. Most of us wouldn’t mind, as long as we’d previously had a great experience with them. However, pretending they’re doing more than that is a major turnoff.

  • I deeply dislike the new logo ! It is very sterile and does not inspire anything the concept wants to communicate. Then the site: The caracters are boring, tenthousand times seen and I don’t get at all the idea, that I can also stay in great places around the world. The new siteis all about meeting people, and nothing more….Very disappointing !!!!!!

  • JChen

    I don’t mean to sound incredibly juvenile but LOOK IT’S A BUM HOLE!

    Especially the Argentinean one. That’s just nasty.

  • Not really that impressed but maybe it will grow on me. Just seems a bit corporate and basic, almost soulless. I find the change from blue to red more offensive, well unwelcoming, than the logo and font change though.

    The only positive for me at the moment is that if you concentrate hard enough it looks like a dog’s snout

  • Nils

    What a surprise, haters gonna hate! The old logo was horrendous, this is fresh and bold. Hurrah to vaginas!

  • Ed Wright

    Boobies! Scrotum! Bumhole! AirBnB! In that order.

  • I rent my house on on airbnb and love it. I love it so much I didn’t mind the homemade logo. I thought the product was so good it didn’t need a brand. But what I loved last night was watching the work launch and then immediately seeing everything join up.

    The new website looks great and is empowering for users as it makes the properties look amazing. I enjoyed making my own logo (I wouldn’t do this for many brands) and I think the work is tonally spot on. I get it, I like it, I love it more than I did.

    It allows for individual personality and endless possibility. Which is what Airbnb is all about.

    What a job to work on.

  • Dave
  • Jammy

    Get a grip people, you’ve got balls, tits and arse on the mind.

    It’s interesting to see things go back to basics with a symbol-led approach, rather than a holistic approach.

    Let’s see if a logo can do all the work after all…

  • The Design Troublemaker
  • Ed

    Being a generally filthy minded person, I’m surprised that I really can’t see how this looks like balls, boobs, bum or bush.

    I just don’t see it. Seems a bit malicious and meme-hungry to me, as you could make the apple logo look like an arsehole if you tried hard enough. Or the Nike logo look like a dick or something.

  • Ew

    I don’t think the new logo reflects the same ‘personality’ of the brand, it used to be a little bubbly, rounded, friendly, light hearted and now it looks a little sterile. I don’t see the same company in this logo. Also the website interface has changed and doesn’t work as well. Much preferred my old travel companion.

  • John

    It’s hot today isn’t it.

  • David

    Well, I suppose going viral is good and now Brett’s done a song…welll…
    http://youtu.be/_DNEphxMx1o

  • Sweaty John

    It’s dead warm, John.

  • Personally I like the look of it and it’s a definite improvement on the old one – although people certainly seem to be seeing more in it than just what AirB&B want you to see. It’s almost like the Rorschach blot tests!

  • I love the new look, very fresh and inspiring actually… really like the way they show the people behind the home, gives it a bit of reality, and that with the testimonials I am going to use for my next vacation. The logo, clean design, iconography are all fine by me. I must say, I do get really annoyed with the smart-alecs who post about similar logos and so on, c’mon almost every idea has already been done in someway at some point, I just find it a bit childish and frankly very annoying.

  • Matt

    Hate those ‘Haters gonna Hate’ comments more!!

    It’s better than it was, not great, just average.

    Isn’t the real issue that its not really worth being showcased on CR – hence the comments.

  • Boz

    It is, John. Yes.

  • Jem

    I think as an overall branding it’s quite nice really. The first two panels (‘People’ and ‘Places’) have more character, that may fit in with the feel of the brand a bit more when it properly gets going. A classier approach than previous, but maybe more sterile (no pun intended).

    The only thing I would personally question on this project is the use of an uppercase A when airbnb has always been lowercase. Where does the uppercase A fit within the brand? Is it just to use that shape?

  • Melting Jon

    How can a semiotics company fail to see the obvious? so Asia and South America are ok with it but the rest of the world can see an arse, vagina, tits and testicles.

  • ken

    You know, a logo isn’t what other designers think about it. Other designers opinions are generally useless. It’s what *everyone else* makes of it. And everyone else is seeing any kind of genitalia they can imagine. Justifiably so, because it resembles them. All the mumbo jumbo you can muster to justify a mark like this is hot air when everyone just points out the obvious. Also, the previous logo, while not “great” to you people, had what’s more important: recognizability.

  • Salty Mick

    Nothing wrong with any of the body parts that this logo looks like – who cares if it looks like tits and testicles, really? What it has done is raise a shit load of awareness for the AirB&B brand. But, speaking as an AirB&B host I wonder how much longer it will be before the whole thing is bought out by larger, corporate capitalists who will then demand a bigger cut from my slice of the AirB&B pie? In other words, I kind of liked it how it was when I first signed up – simple, not too clever, says what it is without alluding to symbols and advertising mumbo. Progress – a love hate relationship. PS I don’t dislike the new look per sé, I just fear for the future in general.
    Old Hippie.

  • Anna

    @ Matt

    if it’s not worth being showcased why bother reading and commenting on it?

    Judging by the coverage it’s getting, people find it a branding project worth their while discussing.

  • Red Snapper

    I wonder what Greg makes of it…

  • If any part of your body looks like this logo, then I’d recommend a swift visit to the doctor.

  • I think all you haters need to get a grip!

    Read this from the Logo Smith http://imjustcreative.com/airbnbs-new-logo-design-gets-mobbed/2014/07/17?utm_content=buffer25964&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    The logo and branding is at best a great example of how branding can create impact. You are all talking about it, its stirring a feeling inside of you, this is the essence of great design. Bravo to Aibnb and DesignStudio.

    You all seem to be very critical, so I ask yourselves to show us something better. I myself know how subjective design in general can be and we all view things in different ways.

  • Resd Snapper

    Damian seems to be operating on the old theory of ‘there’s only thing worse than being talked about and that’s not being talked about’ Not always the case.Just ask Rolf Harris…

  • Bit low to bring a Rolf Harris digression into the conversation.

    Shame you can not even spell your name correctly.

  • Read Snapper

    Thanks Damo for the feedback…actually on this occasion the ‘s’ in Red is intentional…just mixing it up a bit. Oh, and by the way, I think ‘can not’ looks better as one word…just saying

  • Jenny Y

    I’m indifferent to the new logo, but I HATE HATE HATE the website redesign. I am an Airbnb host and my apartment profile is now really hard to navigate (you have to press the + sign to visualize any important information, instead of seeing everything in one page.) The main photo is now cropped in an awkward way (the top and bottom part of the main photo is cut off so the default view shows only the middle part of the photo.) I had to retake my main profile photo to fit their new design, but now the thumbnail view looks awkward: with the new website design, hosts have a choice between a house photo that looks bad on the main page, or bad as a thumbnail. I wish people would stop focusing on how much the new logo sucks and tell Airbnb how much their new website design sucks. This is not only a concern for me, but all the other Airbnb hosts I have talked to. Please change it back; the old design was so much better!