Airbnb has a fresh coat of paint – including a new website and mobile app, and Bélo - a new logo that invites you to 'belong anywhere.' In addition to the rebranding, the company has tried to redesign its entire user experience – the new website attempts to provide a more intuitive experience with bigger photos, clearer listings and a simpler booking process.
Termed as the 'universal symbol of belonging', Bélo is “an iconic mark for our windows, our doors, and our shared values. It’s a symbol that, like us, can belong wherever it happens to be,” says Airbnb. A video released by the company explains that Bélo stands for people, places, love and Airbnb.
"This whole time we've been talking about Airbnb as a way to get a house, but it's really a way to get a home," founder Brian Chesky told Mashable. "What Airbnb is about at its core is belonging. Our guests feel it when they're welcomed into somebody's home."
The company is promoting it as a shared brand identity by allowing users to customize it using the Create Airbnb tool, which allows you to change the Bélo’s colors and textures and even use it on merchandise. The logo has received a mixed reception from the public ranging from snarky reactions comparing it to genitalia on Twitter and YouTube to those calling it “pure genius.”
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Even as it continues to woo the public, Airbnb is also looking at capitalizing on the massive data that it has been collecting from users.
“For a long time now, Airbnb has been an awesome place to go if you know where you’re going and you know when you’re going,” Mike Curtis, Airbnb’s VP of Engineering explained to Wired. “But we realized that we have all of this data that other people don’t have. We have travel patterns. We have the reviews. We have the descriptions of the listings. We know a lot about neighborhoods that we can infer from the text in there.”
The site has formed a Discovery team to build a processing software that will mine its data.
“A lot of what we’re doing is the foundational work for user-level personalization,” explains Lu Cheng, a Discovery team engineer.
Some of its implications can be seen in the new site, which suggests travel ideas to visitors based on their location.
“We try to figure out exactly where you are and who the people are around you and where they like to travel,” said Surabhi Gupta, another engineer on the team.
The sharing economy success story was recently valued at $10 billion by the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones' VentureSource. However, Airbnb has been plagued by legal issues that call its entire premise into question. New York's 'illegal hotel law' prohibits subletting of entire apartments for less than 29 days. Such rentals are a large part of the site's offerings, and while it reached an agreement with NY's attorney general on information disclosure, Airbnb is actively campaigning to operate freely in the City.
Another sharing-economy startup, Lyft, has also been finding it tough in New York as a court injunction delayed its launch in the City last week. Last summer, Lyft, Airbnb and TaskRabbit and other companies partnered with Peers, a nonprofit that aims to organize sharing-economy users, and promote and protect the businesses and groups that allow people to share goods and services. It will be interesting to see whether Peers’ efforts can help companies such as Lyft and Airbnb more smoothly navigate the legal landscape.
In the meantime, what do you think of Airbnb’s rebrand?