Hit or Miss? Airbnb reveals new branding to the world

Airbnb, the short-term accommodation businesss, updated its brand identity this week and introduced a new logo that it named the Bélo, "the universal symbol of belonging".

Airbnb's new logo: Mixed reaction in the media
Airbnb's new logo: Mixed reaction in the media

Airbnb unveiled the new brand, which replaces its former bubble identity, at an event in the living room of its first signed-up home, with a teaser site and countdown creating anticipation ahead of the big reveal.

How I see it

Peter Bowles, co-CEO and co-founder, Dynamo PR

Make no mistake, Airbnb’s brand identity did need updating. The old dated artwork with an italicised font in a speech bubble looked like it was written in comic sans and told you very little about what Airbnb really does.

However, to replace it with a cock and balls? A very interesting choice. In fact, in Dynamo HQ we’re not quite sure which body part the Bélo resembles, so we’re sticking to Gizmodo’s line that it is "the sexual Rorschach test for our time".

The PR launch is a clear case of a company relying on traditional comms and not thinking through the wider social media reaction.

Initially it teased the new logo on Monday 14 July with an article on Venturebeat to stir up interest. So by the time of launch on Wednesday the internet was ready to have its take.

The new visual rhetoric, intended to create "a universal symbol for belonging", did seem to bring the media environment together. Everyone from Buzzfeed to the Daily Mail and TechCrunch was united that the logo is about genitalia. But by the time the company had emailed users on Thursday to explain the new identity it was too late.

In a wider sense I like what Airbnb is doing with the new brand, printing it across surfboards, creating 3D visualisations and telling a story to get across Airbnb’s wider services. The rebranding feels more modern, minimalist and consistent.

We’re just surprised that for a company that wants to be more international it has gone with a logo at which most schoolboys would snigger.

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