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The New Airbnb (airbnb.com)
126 points by hoverkraft on July 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments

I'm not sure I've ever met an opinion on a logo, name, or anything creative less than a month old that was worth a damn.

When faced with something new, the tendency is to focus on the superficial, the easy joke, and it's too easy to let other opinions steer your own; they're momentarily on equal footing, you see. But the work will last longer than this moment. Your own opinion will evolve. The crowd will move on to the next easy joke and hip-shot reaction.

That's why I like to avoid making more than cautious, small statements until I've had a while to reflect. This work looks nice to me. There's potential for great marketing in an individually customizable — but still distinctive (or distinguishable) — logomark.

Most of this commentary feels like the person in the code review who hasn't taken the time to digest the intent of the code, so they comment on formatting. Whitespace. Trees. Not the forest.

I clicked on this thread wondering: 1) why is this news?; and 2) why are there so many comments? I'm not sure I learned the answer to either one...

I believe this comment was formatted incorrectly. I think this is how it should've been posted:

>> I'm not sure I've ever met an opinion on a logo, name, or anything creative less than a month old that was worth a damn.

>> When faced with something new, the tendency is to focus on the superficial, the easy joke, and it's too easy to let other opinions steer your own; they're momentarily on equal footing, you see. But the work will last longer than this moment. Your own opinion will evolve. The crowd will move on to the next easy joke and hip-shot reaction.

>> That's why I like to avoid making more than cautious, small statements until I've had a while to reflect. This work looks nice to me. There's potential for great marketing in an individually customizable — but still distinctive (or distinguishable) — logomark.

> Most of this commentary feels like the person in the code review who hasn't taken the time to digest the intent of the code, so they comment on formatting. Whitespace. Trees. Not the forest.

This is on-point for most logo designs, if not all. You can only really see the bad ones in retrospect (the London 2012 Olympics logo comes to mind [1]).

That said, I think the motion-picture used as the background to the call to action is going to be very short-lived on basic UI principles. It's distracting, low-contrast, and pulls people away from the text, button, etc. I'm sure A/B testing will resolve the issue pretty quickly, but it's very trendy right now - Paypal is doing it too. [2]

[1] http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/london-2012-olympic-logo-was-i... [2] https://www.paypal.com/

The background movies that I saw while watching for a while just weren't appealing. AirBnb is full of beautiful, crazy and exciting accommodation options and now instead of showcasing those, they're pushing fairly bland movies and generic location shots first. Any travel website can do that.

As a former Airbnb employee, this is honestly the only thing I don't like about the rebrandredesign!

Airbnb pry has one of, if not THE, world's largest collection of amazing real estate photography.

It's possible some massive real estate company might have as much, but I can't imagine how Airbnb doesn't have the largest collection of lived-in home interiors by a long shot.

You are correct because first impressions don't matter.

I can't tell if this is sarcasm, but if it is, well keep in mind that biting sarcasm isn't really constructive discussion.

If it's not, I apologize for misunderstanding. You may want to explain your thoughts a little more next time.

Logo similarity:


They've had this re-design at least since March (based on their Facebook page).

That is nearly identical. Would anyone with legal experience like to chime in about trademarks or something? I don't have much knowledge of it.

Not a lawyer, but I do have a long-standing interest in trademark law and know a good deal about it.

Courts look at the potential for confusion, which is often avoided if the two companies are in completely different markets, eg Apple Computer complaining about a store that specializes in apple pie and uses the word 'apple' in their business name. Trademark owners essentially have to make a showing of defending their mark or risk being accused of abandonment by someone else who wants to appropriate it, so typically they write a huffy letter, the small business with a vaguely-similar mark protests, and a court or national trademark arbitrator says 'there there, your businesses are totally different and it's OK to have slightly similar names because consumers will be able to tell them apart.'

However it's quite unusual to see two logos that are virtually identical as in this case, and arguably AirBNB is in the business of automating short term lets so there's a possibility of confusion with this firm that offers automation services. The automation firm might have a legitimate complaint for having been using their logo first, but it also depends on which company filed the mark with the USPTO first (which I haven't checked). I'd guess a likely outcome is that AirBnB pays the automation firm some cash to avoid a dispute.

Looks like Airbnb and Automation Anywhere are already working together on this.


The piece starts with the companies on equal footing and ends with the logo belonging to AirBNB. To me that implies AirBNB is buying them off.

It's a win-win...and AirBNB will surely be able to negotiate the bill of its design consultants steeply downward for their lack of due diligence.

Seeing the favicons while having both sites open in different tabs drives the point home even more.

They're even using a very similar shade of orange.

I do wonder if I was making a logo how hard it would be to search for similar ones though. It seems like it would be harder to google than a name.

you could try image search. Image search based on an existing image is fairly easy with google image search.


Well, this should go down in the annals of logos which should have gotten some wider impressions before launching.

Since nobody else on HN has mentioned it, all of twitter thinks the new logo looks like a vagina. It's hard to unsee.


Sex sells, after all.

> the new logo looks like a vagina.

Who cares?

Remember all the iPad jokes about sanitary products when it was announced?

That obviously didn't hurt the now multi-billion dollar giant the iPad has become.

You do realize that people still find the "iPad" name awkward, right?

Just because the device sells doesn't mean the name isn't bad.

How do they feel about notepads and mousepads and bachelor pads?

Hmmm. I'd love to see some data around this. (I don't mean this as snakily as it sounds, surveying some folks about this would make a good blog post, it's sort of an interesting lesson either way).

I can hardly see it when I'm trying too see it. People are reaching.

agreed. i'm reminded once again of hein's "dream interpretation (simplified)":


    Everything's either
    concave or -vex,
    so whatever you dream
    will be something with sex.

I appear to be the only one who thinks it looks like an "A". The loop reminds me of something an airplane would do in the air. I can see the sexual resemblance, but only if I concentrate hard enough on it, then it just goes back to being an "A".

An effective logo should have zero ambiguity whatsoever.

I think the best logos aren't immediately trivially apparent like the FedEx arrow, Tostitos dip bowl, Amazon A to Z, etc.

Huh? I don't think it does, and I have watched my fair share of porn. Looks like an upside down love heart.

Is that what it's meant to be? Makes sense given their #belonganywhere

or maybe that's sexual. BeLongAnywhere?

"Looks like a vulva" would be a more accurate description. /pedantry off

On the other hand, the oldest surviving human art on at least two continents is crude drawings (cruder than the Airbnb logo) of vulvae, so the artistic impulse in this cases is about as old as humankind. (I will be no more willing to rent a room through Airbnb than I was before after seeing today's discussion, and I wasn't very willing before, knowing someone whose reservation was cancelled at the last minute.)

Why does everyone assume the innuendo is accidental?

Agreed. After all, most of us came out of a vagina. There's all sorts of mother/belonging/home insinuations to be made.

It might look like a vagina, but Airbnb's "new" logo is a blatant copy of Automation Anywhere's logo https://www.automationanywhere.com/

Except, the proportions make Automation's look like a clothespin, and AirBNB's like.... well, a vagina now that someone has pointed it out to me, but that definitely wasn't my first impression.

Glad I wasn't the only one, although for me it wasn't so specific -- it just suggested sexual.

I thought the new airbnb logo looked like boobs.

What's wrong with a logo that looks like a vagina? Apple's logo looks like an apple, which isn't really related to their business.

While the shape of an Apple can make for a pretty benign and neutral corporate image it doesn't mean this is true for every shape.

If you were designing a logo, would you make one that looks like a penis?

Sure. What's wrong with vaginas? Why do we demonize parts of the body?

Yeah, OK, why do we? I agree. It's silly. Does the rest of America agree? No.

Given that this is part of AirBnb transforming to a consumer brand you'd think they'd pay more attention to what their target consumers think. They're a business, after all.

"Hey, let's rent a place. It costs reasonable, the people seem nice, it's going to be fun."

"OMG, no, no we can't. The logo looks like a vagina."

"OMG, this service sucks so much, but I like their logo, so I'm going to pay for it!"

Nobody actually thinks this way, but I think it's been demonstrated countless times that people respond to branding.

I guess the takeaway is that just because it's possible to make something sound silly doesn't mean it doesn't have an impact.

Why yes, you're right, that's exactly how brand perception works.

Actually, brand perception usually works in the reverse order of the uphtread description, where negative reaction to branding prevents consideration of the other qualities of the product rather than be considered as a factor of discussion after consideration of those qualities.

I think you might be projecting with the "demonizing," but it seems obvious that it would serve to limit your audience. You can look at an obvious extreme example for plenty of thought-experiments: do porn companies use sexualized iconography?

Certainly that's only good for AirBNB. They'll get free press out of a otherwise non-newsworthy event.

That was my immediate thought. I don't see how you could see much else in it

Looks like a paperclip to me, even when I was trying to see the vagina.

I clicked on the link and saw the "Welcome Home" message with a lady sleeping in the background.

A second or two later she moved and I realized I'm watching a short video of some lady sleeping. Which felt very creepy.

I just thought that was noteworthy since that's not a feeling that comes up all that often clicking on a link for a business's home page.

On the new logo:

I think it's surprisingly nice. The video introduction was good too. Except for a couple things:

1. The flashing font-color/background-color sequence bothered my eyes quite a bit. It's almost offensively intrusive? It seems like one of those "persistent vision" pictures/illusions. Except you don't expect it.

2. The "four things"... took a nice (if a bit cheesy) message, and really made it feel forced. It clued me into the intent that they want little Bélo stickers plastered in the corners of windows... but I feel like that sort of thing happens organically, or not. If you distribute free stickers to owners, with that suggestion on the back of the peel-away, I bet it's as effective. If you don't distribute them, then the video isn't going to make it happen anyways.

Just my 2c.

The ones with the people walking around outside or working at the cafe are fine, but yes that sleeping woman one makes it seem very creepy. Poor choice by the design team.

>I clicked on the link and saw the "Welcome Home" message with a lady sleeping in the background. A second or two later she moved and I realized I'm watching a short video of some lady sleeping. Which felt very creepy.

could not reproduce.

It seems to cycle through different videos, I think this is the one they are talking about: https://a0.muscache.com/airbnb/static/Paris-P1-0.webm

Yeah, how has this not generated more comments? I felt like an absolute stalker as soon as that woman moved, and the subsequent images have made it only worse. Bizarre is an understatement.

For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong.

I hope they didn't pay very much for this, it's nauseating.

I recently used AirBnB for the first time, and I gotta say I agree with the sentiment here and I think calling it nauseating is excessively negative.

When I woke up on my first night in AirBnb I thought I was in my apartment for a moment. It felt like home. This was a great feeling-- here I am in the middle of a foreign land where I know nothing and don't speak the language, but when I go back to my place at the end of the night I feel at home.

Yeah, it's pretty bad. Reads like a high schooler's Livejournal.

The house-home pivot is pretty pedestrian, but nothing I've seen about the rebrand tells me it was anything but expensive.

Naming the logo is pretty pretentious. Though, it doesn't matter much, I have a feeling Bélo isn't going to become a household word.

It doesn't have to be, it's a mascot, which in my experience means it will be an officehold word. Also, since it has a name, I'd say the smart money would be to look for it to play a role in future marketing and advertising collateral.

I certainly can't imagine Don Draper pitching something like this, it is pretty awful.

Don Draper is a fictional character. The reason they used home is to increase auxiliary market share such as home cleaning, key exchange, food delivery, etc services.

It has that "Like a chair" feel to it.

I haven't used AirBnB extensively and don't really remember the old UI, but my immediate thought is this new UI will probably appeal to their target audiences.

It looks like it's designed to convey an emotion - that giddy feeling when you're traveling and seeing something new, coupled with having a homey experience from a local. It's got great big photos, that big hero video, and is emphasizing both people and landscapes pretty well.

Overall, I get the sense that the brand is growing up and expanding from a sub-culture to a larger market of travelers now. And they've managed to look better than an Expedia or Travelocity.

With that said - darn it, now I can't get the "private parts" comparison out of my head now.

(Conspiracy theorist note: Unless, that's what they wanted to put into your head... Ooo...)

The site looks great.

However, is it just me, or do the videos in the mantle not really add much? I find the movement in some of them distract from the space itself, while others just seem a little staged or even a bit creepy. I think I would have much preferred photos.

As a counter-point, the videos were my favorite part but I agree some of them look a little too staged. Possibly blurring them a bit or adding a slightly translucent overlay as another poster suggested could make them less distracting and increase the prominence of the white text overlay.

Just don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Not a critique of the design overall, but if someone responsible for the home page design is reading this: it might be worth applying a slight translucent layer over the background images/videos to help make the white text more readable (something like (0,0,0,0.4)!

I think because the background is such a long, varied animation, it works as-is. None of the letters are unreadable for more than a moment, and only occasionally do small portions become unreadable. The exception, I think, is the Signup|Login|Help navigation section in the top-right. Sometimes whole links become unreadable for like 5 seconds!

Is the new symbol an attempt at some contrived post-millenial hobo code?

"Look, honey! The Bélo! We've found a safe-house!"

I actually was thinking this, because of a Mad Men episode[1] and came here to mention it.

Overall I like the logo, but the idea of something akin to the Hobo Code in particular is pretty brilliant IMHO. It's a very Don Draper idea :)

1: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1097128/

I love the new site. I was never a fan of the old one because I felt overwhelmed with all the information on the screen. This feels cleaner, more minimalist.

One gripe I have with the new site is the fixed booking form on the right side of the screen as you scroll through a listing. I find it really distracting (perhaps that's the point?). Because of the fixed form on the right, there's also a lot of wasted space in the column. I dunno, maybe I'll get used to this over time.

Frankly I did not see this coming [0], I always figured Airbnb would aim to be a universal marketplace, rather than carving out a niche in "authentic", "unique", "truly amazing experiences".

Anyhow, I read "belonging" as a coded word for "community", and wonder how Airbnb thinks they are going to culture their own community...

Maybe they will make a strategic acquisition? Lonely Planet, for example.

Or maybe they will bleed some of their profits into a virtual currency / karma that folks can earn, trade, and apply toward accommodations? Airbnb could tweak the karma economy to maximize profits while still infusing enough karma to bootstrap their community.

[0] http://blog.airbnb.com/belong-anywhere

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive (see PG's essay about narrow and deep, applied to Google, to Microsoft, etc.)- I also remember reading an early Facebook employee's note about how Facebook had to start out serving college students specifically before they could go on to serve everybody, and how if they had tried to serve everybody from the start, they'd probably have failed.

It may be that the path to universality is paved with niches. You can't write a book about everything. You write a book about something, and people see everything in it.

Airbnb probably needs to stay sexy/cool for as long as they can before they become the big/unsexy/bureaucratic administrator/utility providor.

(Sorry for length.)

>Anyhow, I read "belonging" as a coded word for "community", and wonder how Airbnb thinks they are going to culture their own community...

Yeah, I need a new "community" like I need a hole in my head. Not everything I do needs to be social. I love AirBNB because I can rent something with the amenities of a house wherever I'm going to go. I have no interest in socializing with the owners of that house. I don't care if that's how other people want to go, but if the main focus of AirBNB is going to be on how fun it is to sleep in a stranger's house and then have breakfast with them, I can't imagine that it'll be something I'm interested in.

Well, unique and amazing experiences will probably cause them fewer legal issues for Airbnb over the long-term. As opposed to being a universal marketplace where people aren't necessarily abiding by their own leases.

A $10 billion dollar company ought to be able to work that stuff out.

They are valued at $10 billion. They don't have $10 billion. If NYC or SF decided to crackdown harder on Airbnb hosts, then that valuation would drop.

However, if they can move into the slightly more predictable (and defensible) position of providing unique getaways, then they would be in a better position for when that inevitable crackdown does occur.

Another thing that might affect their valuation is whether or not investors believe Airbnb may grow to serve a universal market or just a niche market.

I don't really care about the new logo. But I do wish that the "new airbnb" allowed me to sort the listings by price. This is standard practice on any other site I can think of. Sure I can set a price range but this still forces me to have to think. I like the fact that when I sort results I know that as I continue scrolling the price is going to increase. That way when I find a place I am happy with I know that there is not going to be a place further on which is better value. Please let me know if I am just being stupid and have not figured out how to sort the results.

The change is neat, giving more room to expand towards their bigger vision. But,

what I don't understand is why the hell they moved the most important element in their site down to a secondary place ("the search").

To increase on-page metrics as a driver of "engagement?"

I think this is a step in the right direction for Airbnb. It has more warmth and personality, feels more accessible and less like a website created in 2005 (the existing button styles always irked me). A minor nitpick I have with the design is that video background header, on my desktop Mac with a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 viewing in Chrome at maximum width and height the scaling bugs up and the heads of everyone are being cut off. As I drag the sides of my browser in, the heads come into view and looks much better. It looks a little strange with the cut off heads, perhaps centring the video would be the most ideal fix. The video content seems a little strange as well (especially the one of the woman sleeping).

I am loving that explore view and the subsequent single listing pages with the sticky quick book form. Definitely leaps and bounds better over the existing site. I don't know how I feel about that logo though. I love the story behind its creation, I love the versatility of it as a brand mark, but it kind of looks like a vagina/rocket ship. Hate to be crude, but once you see it, there is no unseeing it. Based on Tweets I've seen about it, I am not alone in thinking that.

Another thing that surprised me is the fact the site is only responsive to an extent. If you shrink your browser down small to that of an iPad mini, it kind of breaks. Surprised the site doesn't work at all resolutions considering the great teams they'd have to make it happen.

Not bad, but I have to say the old design/logo/identity just seemed like more ... fun.

I agree, but I could see (for example) my parents trusting the new design more. It seems more like a legitimate short term rental service rather than a couchsurfing site.

And yet it retains the informality you want from an AirBnB. It's almost perfect.

IMO the design process seems way over the top, but it seems to have produced results.

I can't say I really believe in Airbnb as a company and idea, but that is a damn well designed website -- I guess you could say the best money could buy..

What is so well-designed about the site? I'm no designer and I am not being cynical - I'm genuinely curious because, to me, the site is very similar to many others I have seen today. It's possible I don't have an eye for the details here, but I really don't see a huge difference.

Ex. http://electricpulp.com/ http://spigotdesign.com/ ...

Well. The moving picture at the top, the Masonry image layout. It all really fits well together to convey what airbnb does -- and it really makes you want to connect with them. Airbnb is no doubt a very well funded company.

The second one you mention is also very well designed I'd say, but as you can see, it's a professional web design firm -- so it should look very well -- and as you can see it uses very similar techniques as airbnb.

What is it about the company and idea which make it difficult for you to believe?

What the company is doing is essentially illegal. You can't rent out a living space without applying for rezoning, and then it still has to be with the approval of the city planning department of the city. You can't just let people turn their places into rentals. I live in a large city, and I would mostly agree that city planning in necessary in order to avoid problems with traffic, parking, and all the other problems that happen in dense urban areas.

I think the idea is great, but it's not going to work, maybe in a more relaxed country where they don't care to do any city planning, but not in the United States and other more densely populated cities.


I live in Singapore, where Airbnb will remain illegal for a long time. That said, is "that's illegal!"necessarily watertight proof that something isn't going to work? Could it be possible that people might like the idea of something enough that cultural attitudes change, and people demand different things, and laws shift and change to accomodate what people want?

The thing is, the reasons why Airbnb is illegal (e.g. the zoning laws that the parent mentioned) aren't really subject to shifts in cultural attitudes. It boils down to city planning and structuring (the flow of traffic, the layout of utilities, etc.), all (or at least most) of which are put in place to try and make our horribly inefficient cities just a bit more efficient.

How much bandwidth does one need to be able pipe down a 22.9 Meg WebM video file with every home page impression? Oi. Looks beautiful though.

Trivia: the new logo is called the "Bélo"; the old one was constructed from the typeface "Bello" by Underware.


The coincidence is startling. Old typeface Bello by Underwear. New logo is being called a vagina and is named Bélo.

Not bad, but its WAY too over designed. The actual functional part on the front page is like a black bar that is 10% of the page. The start your adventure part is nice, but serves little functionality to me. Yes its cool to see all these awesome places, but I don't think I'll be going to Berlin anytime soon. The search page looks good still, just not a fan of the front page.

Compared to Kayak which makes it super obvious where to start, and the "Start Your Adventure" equivalent is top cities people travel to. That section should be a supplement not a main feature.

It seems clear to me that this is a step towards a bigger vision (example: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/05/us-airbnb-dinner-i...)

I just saw the event they had, and while extremely awkward and painful to watch, they continually eluded to a broader concept bigger than "renting rooms."

I am not really a fan of the pastel colors and the new logo. I know they were trying to make photos and such more prominent but I find it harder to navigate.

The new logo just looks like a paperclip to me.

Think of how many meaningful connections you could make if you charged below market rate for lodging in high demand areas. Until now I thought airbnb was about making money for themselves and their hosts, but now I see it's about connecting the world through meaningful experiences and the money is almost not even a factor! Amazing!

The front page looks like a designer/agency portfolio site and not like the tool/application that it really is. It looks like the actual result pages haven't changed much, so that's a good thing.

I'm in the middle of redesigning my own website this week and I've seen plenty of this stuff. Too much really.

I think this was a well thought out rebranding, especially seeing as they are becoming a larger global brand, and their identity needed to reflect that as well.

The site is beautiful, the new logo is simple yet unique and fits their brand well, and I personally cannot wait to use their services next year for my trip through Europe.

first impression of logo: it nauseates me. It makes me uneasy. I don't know why, it looks like too random to me, to doodled. And their initiative to people draw it by themselves make this even worse.

I ain't no designer, or any kind of expert, but I keep looking at it and it confounds my eyes. Terribly.

The new logo looks like a spaceship ... they are preparing for selling trips into orbit.

If you've been following the commentary about the logo on Twitter, that is the exact opposite of what people immediately interpret as the symbol.

the exact opposite?

Apparently vaginas and rockets are opposites. Maybe because rockets = penises. Who knows.

The ethos of the redesign is more important than the redesign itself. The new logo is more than airbnb's take on the hobo code. It is an attempt to move beyond being a commodity and into a brand people can aspire to.

Airbnb: Watching you sleep!

I absolutely love the new branding & fluid logo. This is one of those gigantic branding leaps that makes everything that came before look instantly outdated. Nice work.

I'm not sure why so many people seem so intent on sexualizing a logo. I think that it's pretty clever to incorporate the location marker into the A.

I like a lot of the design but some of those videos are super creepy. Just felt like "AirBNB, we watch you while you sleep." :)

Are they into space technology? No joke, that was the very first thing that came to my mind when I saw the new logo.

Bootstrap, I guess it just over for now. What's the next look and feel? Things I ponder, late nights. :-)

So it's... a new logo? Sure seems like an awful lot of fuss over a very little change.

Yeah, I thought they were going to do something meaningful, like waiting at least a minute to forget the dates I've already entered at least a dozen times.

New logo, new fonts, new colors, new message. All apps and web properties skinned and released in unison.

On airbnb.pl were the prices always displayed as zł1090 etc? The proper way is 1090zł.

Thanks for the bug report! I'll relay it to the proper engineer.

The white text in the main headers sometimes blends in with the video background.

Star Trek? A stylized male genitalia?

This feels faster. Is it?

What was wrong with the old design? IMHO, the current site doesn't look as good.

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