For those of you who are into traveling, you are probably very familiar with the trendy Airbnb, a travel site that lets you book a stay at someone’s home instead of a hotel. They are part of a growing trend of websites making the user’s travel booking experience easier, more exotic, and more economical. EatWith and some other sites allow you to book a dining experience in a local’s home and make new friends. Boatbound lets you rent a yacht, and SideTour lets you sign up for unique experiences with locals and other travelers. There’s also Adioso, an amazing flight booking site developed by guys with a passion for traveling that’s better than anything you can get from Kayak or Expedia. Want to take a trip in November from Minneapolis St. Paul, but don’t know where? It will show you locations based on price. Even if you’re not looking for a flight in the immediate future, it’s worth it to check out Adioso’s experiences blog and their wanderlists, and if you’re like me, you’ll soon find yourself looking at flights.
This week, Airbnb re-branded. Here is their old logo. The script is airy, bubbly, and cloud-like.
And here is their new logo that I’ve put in black and white:
At first glance, I think it looks like a paperclip or an upside-down heart.
Social media and bloggers however found something else in the symbol. Apparently thought it looked like, putting it delicately, “lady parts,” putting it bluntly, a vagina or boobs – which is interesting given its history of being used as a portable brothel.
Their CEO Brian Chesky called it “a universal symbol of belonging.” They have a page on their website talking about the story of the brand evolution to belonging anywhere. You can even create your own version of the symbol to represent you, calling it a “shared brand identity” (a concept which makes a trademark attorney and daughter of a logo cop squirm).
I asked some heavily traveled friends who use the service what they think about the rebrand, and I think they hit it on the head: it’s ambiguous. For many unfamiliar with the service, it makes their offering even more unclear. I don’t want to feel like I belong in someone’s home (that’s borderline creepy), or that I have homes in different area codes. I want to crash in a sweet pad for a few days. And I probably do want to know which available rooms to rent are more “home is where the heart is” and less Heidi Fleiss.
So here’s your Friday Rorschach test – what do you think the logo looks like? (my favorite answer thus far: nun’s habit with hands up in prayer)