Airbnb, a popular short-term home rental service, is marking its 7th year with a shift to a new design to better communicate the ideas of sharing and belonging. The new design has been developed by the London-based company DesignStudio.
When started by two friends in San Francisco in 2007, Airbnb was initially conceived as an “Airbed & Breakfast” service for budget travelers, however, has evolved to become a community of the like-minded people who value sharing over owning.
The new identity—the Bélo logo—reflects the idea of belonging anywhere in the world. It represents people, places, love and resembles the letter A, as the press note states. Moreover, Airbnb makes the logo customizable, because every guest and all hosts are different— each member of the community can create a symbol of their own that showcases their own story of belonging.
View the story behind the new concept in the video below:
Besides the visual identity itself, every single page of Airbnb’s web and mobile experience has been redesigned. From photography to typeface to color schemes, these will be updated to reflect the new look and feel. The homepage will have a new “Discover section,” inspiring users and showcasing all the different places in the world one can travel with a sense of belonging.
In less than 24 hours, the new Airbnb identity has already drawn a series of public ridicule and offensive mockeries on the Internet, in where the Bélo mark is represented as German wings, genitals or other sexually themed objects.
Ben Wright, the co-founder of DesignStudio, said in a comment to the British online title The Drum: “A brand transformation of this scale for a company this size is a big deal – and it will always inspire debate and get people talking. Responses so far have shown that’s exactly the case. We’ve heard the logo looks like a lot of things, from an A+ symbol, running rivers and tracks, and of course sexual imagery! Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, that doesn’t worry me in the slightest.”
Another point of debate around the new Airbnb logo is the fact that it looks almost identical to the logo of an IT automation company called Automation Anywhere.
In response to these speculations, Airbnb’s press office has released a statement that reads as follows: “Airbnb and Automation Anywhere are working cooperatively to address this issue, and Automation Anywhere is in the process of transitioning to a new logo design that is not similar to the Airbnb logo.”