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Airbnb: The Power of a Human-Centered Brand

Do you want to let a stranger sleep in your extra bedroom?

Many people thought Airbnb was a crazy idea, but Airbnb believed that its brand held a secret – it was human-focused.

Think about the traveling and the hotel experience before Airbnb. Pick a city, then pick a hotel. It might be a fancy hotel or a cheap hotel, but it probably feels like an office building or an airport.

What Airbnb realized is that people want something different. It’s captured in the company’s brand tagline “belong anywhere.” Belonging, having an authentic experience, is more important than individually bottled soap and shampoos.

By noticing an opportunity to reshape the way the world views travel, hospitality and sharing, Airbnb set out to create a unique process. In 2013, their branding team set out to understand their culture. They went to 4 continents, interviewing 18 hosts and 120 Airbnb employees and spending hours immersed in the experience from the perspective of host and guest.

The process unlocked a new user experience. Airbnb’s new brand message and voice discovery resulted in an immersive way to experience home and community away from home. Airbnb’s users want to find the most perfect place to call home while they’re away and Airbnb designed a user experience for just that and grounded in simplicity.

Airbnb needed a marque or logo that anyone could draw – something that transcended language and formed the foundation of their new brand. The marque, named Bélo, encompasses values of belonging and is imbued with four meanings of People, Places, Love and Airbnb.

The Bélo is also used as a community symbol that can be expressed differently by each community member and in every listing – it is not bound by language, culture or location. The end result is a symbol people feel compelled to share – one that accepts we are all different yet belong together.

Airbnb is not only an industry leader, but an influencer brand. It’s created a paradigm shift in how the world thinks about travel, hospitality, and even citizenship. It’s regularly cited by innovators and business leaders for its pioneering and successful approach.

Most importantly, Airbnb is a powerhouse and poster child for a movement bigger than itself. It continues to be for the community, by the community, epitomizing what it means to find belonging anywhere in the world.

There’s a powerful question you can ask to mirror Airbnb’s human-centered approach: Can other people know our brand?

After all, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.” - Marty Neumeier

Follow this link for a complementary brand consultation with the top human-centered branding agency. Campfire Branding.

- Shaun Loria, Copywriter


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