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It’s More Than a Makeover



If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would you change? How far would you go to right what you believe is entirely wrong about the construct of you? How many of us think about it? A little nip here and a little tuck there and wah-la! Flawless and dripping in perfection.


Now, what if that change made you utterly unrecognizable to the people that matter most to you? You transformed, and now you find yourself reintroducing yourself to the world. The impacts could be catastrophic, like the effects Jennifer Grey's nose job had on her acting career. Or, it could be the best decision ever made.


For Airbnb, the brand's makeover was undoubtedly a checkmate. However, it wasn't just a whim of a decision. The nipping and the tucking were very much methodical.


Our next "Mother of Brand Reinventions" belongs to the infamous lodging genius that disrupted the travel industry in 2013 by offering travelers a new way to vacation. Though unique in its offering—homestay accommodations—Airbnb struggled to set itself apart from its closest competitors. So it was time to discover what the brand was really made of. Driven to show us why they were different, Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO and Founder, knew it was time to burst the lid off the one-of-kind value Airbnb adds to travel.


DesignStudio was hired to lead the rebirth of the already successful homestay movement. To get the job done right, the firm immersed itself into the project, becoming the brand. To identify the Airbnb 'why' DesignStudio tore down the four walls safely guarding the company and experienced its offering through the lens of the hosts' homes and the tourists who stayed in them. Members of the DesignStudio team traveled to 13 cities globally and lodged with 18 Airbnb hosts. Every aspect of every experience was documented and reviewed.


Additionally, the agency set up shop in Airbnb's headquarters. For three months, they lived, worked, and played side-by-side with Airbnb's team members. Interviews with over 120 employees provided further insights into the travel accommodation's honor society and rounded out DesignStuido's market research.


Drum roll, please! What was uncovered was a blend of simplicity capturing our need for community. 'Belong Anywhere,' Airbnb's promise to eliminate ‘tourist’ from our vernacular, permitting us to become a local wherever we roam. DesignStudio notes, "Belong Anywhere acted as a unifying internal and external communication platform and vision for the business. It highlighted growth opportunities built around the concept of belonging, including Airbnb Experiences."


This new feel also came with a new look that DesignStudio coined the Bélo. The logo is a timeless work of art, blending and representing People, Places, Love, and Airbnb. The removal of language barriers and the addition of heart is the aim and objective of Airbnb's new visual depiction. A message spoken around the world.


Unlike the cutting and pulling we may do, Airbnb's makeover worked. The rebrand nearly broke Twitter when launched, and the awards won't stop coming. Simple was the result, but the arrival was anything but easy.


Accolades were won because battles were fought.

You want a rebirth, a winning reinvention. Good. It'll take more than a plastic surgeon with a few weeks of recovery. It will require time, strategy, poise, and investment in the work.


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