Yes, we know were a bit late on this one, seeing as it was front page news a week or two ago. It all started as part of a re-branding campaign that refreshed the website, Airbnb also introduced a new logo, which they christened the Bêlo.
Often called, “a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world”. The company has positioned itself to be a sort of community that links people from 190 countries and 34,000 cities, all around the world. A sort of hub for all of those who share the same values and wishes when it comes to their vision of seeing the world.
This huge brand redesign was presented by DesignStudio, and at first things were going smoothly, great even. Design blogs, like behance or abduzeedo were praising the innovative and simple re-design, often quoting how much of an improvement it was over the old logo. BrandMagazine even posted an article on how great it was, without so much as a hint of trouble.
Then after a short time, people started to see other things in the Belo. To quote a Forbes article “To Oliver Wainwright at The Guardian, Meg Wagner at the New York Daily News, Alissa Walker at Gizmodo and scores of folks on Twitter, it looked like a body part, though there’s some debate as to which part.” The Social media platform Tumblr has even joined the “roast” finding surprising new uses for the Belo. The new logo’s gone viral in a close likeness to the McDonalds Happy social media storm.
Airbnb is not taking it on the chin however, they are fighting back. It’s obvious that the company invested a lot of money on the rebrand as well as a good deal of emotional effort. Crafting a new personality for your brand is not an easy endeavor. The Mail Online quotes Airbnb CTO Nathan Blecharczyk as saying,
“It’s just like: Go ahead, laugh all you want, guys. We wouldn’t want to design a logo that caters to the lowest common denominator.”
Social media scandals have a tendency blow up and then blow over: it’s just the way it works. The real question is whether the flop uncovers a real problem with the design. Will it cost you money with average consumers? Will ordinary people be distracted every time they look at your logo? Pepsico recalled the Tropicana packaging not because it was embarrassing the brand but because it was ineffective. That’s what matters.
Regardless, Airbnb’s CTO made a mistake in arguing with the masses, the company needs to show that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Too many startups act as though they’re curing cancer. They’re not. And the average consumer reacts negatively to brands that show themselves that way.
It’s still a bit early to definitely know what the future holds for Airbnb.
Will they change their logo?
Will they take advantage of all the media coverage?
Will they start developing a line of feminine products?
Just to be clear, Airbnb