It’s 2013 and it all started as a simple brief for a rebrand. The original brand identity – an overnight rush job by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia – had been outgrown by a business and community that were growing at phenomenal speed thanks to its innovative (downright wild at the time) accommodation model. This growth signalled something more – Airbnb didn’t just need a new visual identity; it needed a brand that could express the vision of its founders and guide and support its business through exponential growth and whatever the future may hold.
It quickly became clear that Airbnb’s line of ‘a place to stay’ was selling it short. Immersion into all things Airbnb – from its San Francisco headquarters to homes in 18 metro cities and villages around the world – revealed that our inklings were right: Airbnb is all about people and not about the places at all. The passion of its founders and the love and generosity of people around the world was changing the culture of travel with places and personal experiences unlike any other. Belonging the world over was Airbnb’s truth and its differentiator.
‘Belong Anywhere’ became our compass. The ‘Belo’ symbol – a sort of heart/drop pin hybrid that can be drawn by anyone – transcends language and culture in an ode to Airbnb’s welcoming spirit, while a warm and welcoming new colour palette reflects the open heartedness of its people.
This higher purpose shifted Airbnb’s narrative to focus on belonging, with language and messaging elevating the conversation away from insurance and bookings to warmth and welcome. As Airbnb gained momentum, empowering both as hosts and visitors in every single country in the world (except North Korea), its community grew, and their faces and stories quickly anchored all global and local campaigns.
Rather than showing a dreary room listing, photography and film boldly captured the people and places that make these magical experiences and special connections possible. As part of the brand overhaul, we moved our team to Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters to redesign its technology and digital experiences towards seamless global storytelling, wherever you are and whatever language you speak.
When I look at this brand, I suddenly realise everything I’ve been trying to say, now we have a way to express it.BRIAN CHESKYCEO & CO-FOUNDER, AIRBNB
‘Belong Anywhere’ shaped the brand but more importantly, it unified and differentiated the business. Internally, it’s embedded in every single part of the business – the decision-making lens that steers everything from HR and office design to CSR and partnerships. Even its acquisitions, such as Barcelona-based Trip4real, show Airbnb’s commitment to local knowledge, and in a severance announcement made in the height of the pandemic, Brian Chesky pledged job support in the form of an Alumni Placement Team, career services, equity and 12 months of healthcare to all those leaving the business.
Externally, it’s an icon. Perhaps most importantly however, the brand enables Airbnb to adventure, explore and do a whole lot more in the future.
The Airbnb rebrand trended on Twitter, won a host of awards and is still globally recognised as category defining. It also helped to propel Airbnb’s valuation to $29 billion above their closest competitor in less than four years. On its first day of trading at the end of 2020, Airbnb’s share price more than doubled the $68 per share price set for its IPO the day before, giving it a market cap of about $86.5 billion, well beyond that of travel giants Booking.com and Expedia.