Creating a marque anyone can draw

With this project, we set out to create a top-to-bottom transformation of the Airbnb brand to reflect the growing global audience. Part of our goal was to design a marque anyone could draw – something that transcended language and formed the foundation of the new brand. The marque, named Bélo, encompasses values of belonging and is imbued with four meanings of People, Places, Love and Airbnb. This is transcended into a community symbol that can be expressed differently by each community member and in every listing – it is not bound by language, culture or location. The end result is a symbol we hope people feel compelled to share, one that accepts we are all different, one to wear with pride. Our long term aim is to create a universal symbol for Airbnb.

Making the move from a tech to a lifestyle brand

Despite being incredibly engaged with the community globally and having a massively successful product, the brand was rooted in the technology and not the people. To build a brand and not just a new marque, we began by creating a bespoke colour: ’Rausch’. Named in honour of the street where it all started, it is a colour which delivers the emotion and passion around the brand, without the aggression of pure red. Rausch is supported by a secondary palette, with colours and names drawn from continents and world cities, to create a memorable range to be used by Airbnb’s vast internal design team.

For typography, a custom version of Circular by type foundry Lineto was developed to create a wider set covering all uses across print and digital products. And for photography and illustration, we worked with the internal teams to establish principles to guide the commissioning and creation of assets for the brand.

“DesignStudio impressed us along the way with their consistent attention to detail. They produced inspiring, insightful and thorough work in short periods of time. It’s rare to find a team so diligent and so creative.”

Andrew Schapiro – Head of Brand Creative, Airbnb

Sharing sets up the future for the brand

To create a home for the brand’s creative output, we worked with Airbnb to build digital guidelines to become a repository for all the brand ingredients as well as a good dose of inspiration. This new approach was to avoid the long-forgotten PDF format laying dormant on the hard drives of employees and third parties, by creating a focus for the creative talent inside and outside the business to share, inspire and engage the community. Through this growing site we can trace the brand from launch through its evolution and creative exploration, negating the need to revisit it in a few years’ time.