Airbnb, Why the New Logo?

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
3 min read

Airbnb just rolled out a new logo and website design. But why right now? The company is going strong, worth upwards of $10 billion, involved in some highly controversial legal battles and then there’s the fact that rebrandings always draw criticisms. (Yahoo, anyone?) The Internet did not disappoint -- especially when it came to the logo design. And in some cases, the comments are downright crude.

OK, so what’s behind the logo? What was Airbnb thinking?

The Bélo, as Airbnb has named its new logo, is intended to be a symbol of “belonging,” according to co-founder of the San Francisco-based company, Brian Chesky.

Related: The Future of the Sharing Economy Is a World Built Like Bitcoin

Airbnb Logo Explanation

The symbol itself is a combination of four simple symbols: a head to represent people, a location icon to represent place, a heart for love and then an A for Airbnb. A video (embedded below) explains the geometry of Airbnb’s logo.

The three co-founders of Airbnb spent the last year -- a year in which they have been fighting some very impassioned legal battles -- trying to boil down their company’s core mission. They decided to focus on “belonging,” the idea that through their service, a traveler can feel at home anywhere.

“You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere,” says Chesky. “The rewards you get from Airbnb aren’t just financial -- they’re personal --for hosts and guests alike.”

Related: Airbnb Co-Founder: If Rejection Slows You Down, Entrepreneurship Isn't For You

As part of the initiative, Airbnb is inviting members of its community to create their own version of the Airbnb logo. (Perhaps this wasn't a great idea, after a Tumblr blog was created to mock the logo.)

The new Airbnb pitch is unabashedly tugging at heart strings, focusing the rebranding on the people in the community and the people who use the service. It does, I have to admit, kind of work. I felt some feels reading about the founder’s experiences.

“I met Amol, one of the first guests, who later invited me to his wedding in India. I met Sebastian, who was trapped in his house in the middle of the London riots in 2011. Before his own mother had a chance to check that he was okay, seven of his former guests did. And I met Shell, who saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and listed her home for free to those who were displaced,” says Chesky.

Those emotional renderings, though, are going to do nothing for the very real legal battles Airbnb is currently embroiled in. Those regulatory battles are particularly intense in New York City, where the New York Attorney General subpoenaed the personal information of New York City hosts.

Related: Airbnb Piloting Dinner Party Program for Complete Strangers

And as much as Airbnb wants to pull at emotional heartstrings, the $10 billion company still has some very complicated, and potentially lengthy, regulatory battles to wrangle.

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