Airbnb is poised to completely disrupt the hotel industry, and today’s rebranding of the startup makes it even more obvious.
Like Uber and TaskRabbit, Airbnb is all about using technology to make a seamless experience in the real world. You can look up a place to stay in the iPhone app, communicate with the owner, and book it without ever having to be put on hold or wait in line at a front desk.
With a redesigned interface focused on simplicity and discoverability, Airbnb is making it easier to find places to stay. But sadly all of that is being ignored because of how ridiculous that new logo looks.
Called “The Bélo,” Airbnb’s new logo is supposed to be a combination of the “A” in Airbnb, a geo pin, and a heart. Airbnb’s CEO told Fast Company that the logo captures the “essence of belonging,” but it actually translates quite differently for most people. At first glance it looks inspired by certain female anatomy.
Regardless of what you think the logo looks like, the plan is for it to start showing up on the windows and doors of establishments listed on Airbnb around the world. Until now, Airbnb hasn’t really had a physical brand presence beyond its app. In the same way that ride-sharing service Lyft has its pink mustaches for cars, Airbnb’s whatever-you-wanna-call-it logo should start marking its territory at the places you visit.
A gimmicky aspect of the new logo is that Airbnb is letting anyone customize it to make their own version for a window sticker or keychain. So the next time an owner hands you the keys for where you’re staying, it might have a colorful version of the new vaginal/butt emblem attached.
Beyond the logo, Airbnb’s web and mobile apps have been redesigned to “reflect the people who make up this community.” Everything is cleaner with big images and large fonts. The iPhone app’s new “Discover” section shows places to rent based on cities and themes. You can learn more about a place’s owner with a full-page layout and short bio.
After playing with the new app, I was impressed with how pleasant it was to navigate and look through listings. It looks like my next trip might be planned with the help of Airbnb—new logo and all.