Branding Success Story: Airbnb

Where One Rental = Travel, Hospitality & Belonging

Traveling to, visiting and discovering new places can be one of the ultimate experiences: memorable, exciting and an adventure to say the least.  One of the main reasons for traveling is to experience a place for all its unique qualities and offerings. Yes of course that includes seeing the tourist attractions, visiting famous landmarks and eating at the best-rated restaurants in town but it should also include experiencing a place like the locals do. A feeling that is hard to achieve when staying at the local hotels and hostels.

Enter Airbnb, the popular online and mobile rental site that is changing the way people list their unique properties for rent to millions of guests worldwide. Their secret to success? A place, and more an importantly an idea that we all crave…


Founded in 2008 Airbnb is a “trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.” At Airbnb “unique accommodations” can mean a room, an apartment, a house or even a castle! Now in more that 34,000 cities and 190 countries, with 17 million+ guests, and 800,000+ listings Airbnb has successfully redefined the traditional travel accommodation industry.

REFRESHING A SUCCESFUL BRAND. Seeking to align the Airbnb brand with the founders’ original intentions and what it had become to its community of millions of users, the company went through a yearlong rediscovery process. What they learned was that Airbnb was more than a place to rent houses. It is about renting a place where you can BELONG, a HOME. Guests can travel to new places, stay in unique spaces and feel like they belong, with a local home, suggestions for local eateries, hidden treasures, new friends, and much more. Something you can’t get at a hotel.

This is how Airbnb changed from a functional technology brand to a lifestyle brand. They have executed this through the creation of a marque that reflects its growing global community, named Bélo. A marque with four meanings: People, Places, Love and Airbnb.  See the video above! They also redesigned their online and mobile platforms to represent the feeling of home and belonging. Lastly they engaged their community by inviting them to “Make Airbnb Yours” by sharing their unique stories and experiences with Airbnb.

PEOPLE REALLY DO JUST WANT TO #BELONGANYWHERE. Brand management is more than just maintaining a brand; it is about continually evaluating your mission, philosophy, and goals against those of the community that your brand serves. What Airbnb did right was not entrenching themselves in their original brand and maintaining it because it had been so successful. They knew the best way to have continued success was to evolve with their community and stand for an idea rather than a product.

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