Why Brands Need to Be More Airbnb


Lots of brands have great branding. Lots of brands have a compelling identity and a positioning founded on a core vision and deep understanding of their audience. Lots of them also have a memorable design that somehow magically captures all this.

But how many brands can say they actually live it?

Airbnb has become a world renowned case study in ‘how to do brand’. The full process and story of the now famous (and occasionally infamous) ‘bélo’ is widely documented and available on YouTube and in online articles (notably this month’s edition of Fortune magazine).

As a casestudy it is a cornerstone example all marketers should become familiar with. However, it became all the more impressive and important a case study today when founder Brian Chesky announced  Airbnb will be aiding those stranded by the recent immigration restrictions to the U.S. under Trump (aka the #MuslimBan).

Why? Because Airbnb believes in and live their brand positioning ‘Belong Anywhere’.

It shouldn’t really have come as surprise. On the original blog post announcing the new branding and defined positioning, it was made clear that ‘belong anywhere’ already had an established heritage in both social responsibility and social action.

“I met Sebastian, who was trapped in his house in the middle of the London Riots in 2011. Before his own mother had a chance to check that he was okay, seven of his former guests did. And I met Shell, who saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and listed her home for free to those who were displaced. These people, along with millions of others, have their own unique backgrounds and life experiences. 

We all come from vastly different cultures and places. And yet, no matter how many miles may separate us, we are united by the universal, powerful, human desire to connect, to understand, and to belong.”

Airbnb founder Brian Chesky

Yet it is surprising. Because so many brands go through the expense, the time and hard work of developing their positioning without going the extra 10% of the way to actually live it. To bringing it into all aspects of the brand – from how they answer the phone and treat employees, to how they react to big news stories.

As both social upheaval and social action seem to be becoming the norm in 2017, the authenticity and positioning of brands will only become more important.

This year, brands need to be asking themselves is their brand promise merely a forgotten strapline below a logo, or something they actively try to prove to consumers and clients daily that they truly believe in and want to keep?

Ps. You can volunteer your home for the Airbnb scheme here.

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