Airbnb – Logo Design

Airbnb – Logo Design

Earlier this year Airbnb worked on a rebrand with UK based company DesignStudio, coming up with what I think is the best logo design of this millennium, here’s a breakdown of the process and comments from the key people involved…

The brand that Airbnb had before working with DesignStudio was always meant to be a temporary brand identity. One of the founders came up with the original blue logo which was decided to be good enough to get them started. A few years past as they stuck with the original identity until they realised the community they had built didn’t map to the brand, any more, that the business and the community had outgrown the brand. Now, you can’t get this type of thing wrong, this is the company’s’ identity, supposedly you do it right once and that lasts 100 years. So Airbnb decided they needed somebody they really loved to partner with.

Initially the Airbnb founders (Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky) meet with a well-known creative partner to discuss ideas. While the meeting went fine they left feeling really underwhelmed. So they set up a conference call with DesignStudio to see what the English studio had to offer. Once tuned in over Skype, Paul Stafford and his colleague’s from DS looked as though they were sitting around someone’s house, which in fact was their office they had transformed and listed on the Airbnb website!

Brian Chesky commented “Great people do great creative work, these guys had completely amerced themselves into this project, literally unlocking and inspiring what was possible… halfway through their presentation I text my partner Joe and said – these are the guys!”

I think it’s obvious that DesignStudio clearly understood the heart and soul of Airbnb. There’s never any value in pretending you understand a company, you really have to accept if you don’t know anything about your potential client, go in and get to know them. DesignStudio did this by moving into their offices for two weeks while interviewing fifty of their staff from the kitchen to the design team. Also, sending four guys to eighteen different countries’ in one week to live as guests. There’s always going to be issues when outsourcing or using external agencies. They might be experts at design or branding, but in no way experts on the client or their culture. That’s why a lot of companies try to do things themselves and keep things authentic. Therefore DesignStudios had to literally BECOME Airbnb if they were to do this right. Almost like a good method actor, taking on a role and becoming inseparable from that character.

If you think about great marketing of our age, like Apple’s ‘Think different’ campaign. It wasn’t a partnership between Lee Clow and the Apple’s then CMO, it was Steve Jobs and Lee working together, in harmony to create great work.

Paul Stafford, DesignStudio’s Founder said they worked on thousands of concepts and draft idea’s before hitting that eureka moment, and that came when they realised what Airbnb was truly all about… Belonging! That’s their mission, ‘to live in a world where we belong anywhere.’ Now they hit the nail on the head they needed to find the best way of getting this message across. How better then creating a symbol? Something that people all over the world can recognise and identify in any culture and any generation. The new logo encapsulates four key components of the Airbnb brand; people, places, love and Airbnb. When you see the symbol it should represent belonging.


Jonathan Ive one of the worlds most admired designers took one look at the new logo design and commented; “now they can go anywhere!”


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