Jason Martin

The New Airbnb Logo: Integrated Marketing Communications or Not?

By: Jason Martin | July 30, 2014 | 

Integrated Marketing Communications: Is the Airbnb Logo Intentional Branding or a Botched Recipe?By Jason Martin

As a marketing professional who specializes in the integrated marketing communications (IMC) process of strategy development (Go Mountaineers!), the Airbnb logo redesign hoopla validates an extremely important part of the planning process.

You must develop an integrated marketing communications strategy statement to capture or define the single most pervasive thought of a brand’s essence.

Why is this important?

The answer is simple: Brands live and die in the mind of the consumer.

Your integrated marketing communications strategy statement is the litmus test for all your communications pieces. Each one should be measured against it before it makes it into the public view.

Did this happen with Airbnb? Was the logo design intentional or not?

It’s hard to say.


Ingredients of an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

Airbnb cannot deny the fact that everyone is talking about them, which is a great segue into one of the key components and integrated marketing communications strategy statement – Emotional Factors.

Simply put, emotional factors are what the consumer says about your brand, product, or service.

It is literally how they feel.

And, you best believe, whether you are listening or not, they feel some type of way about you.

So how do they feel about Airbnb?

Let’s pull a few points from a recent AdWeek article and the socialverse.

Emotional Factors

  • I feel like I’m looking at lady parts when I see their logo.
  • I feel like I’m looking at every sexual organ possible when I see their logo.
  • I have more fun when I travel using Airbnb.
  • I have more money to spend when I travel using Airbnb.

Notice the structure of these statements.

Starting these statements with “I” helps put you, the brand owner or marketer, in the mindset of the consumer.

Pay attention to what they are saying. This is your market. This is your audience.

Think about what your brand means to them. Think about the emotional benefits your brand fulfills for them.

Rational Factors

Next are the Rational Factors.

These are traits, characteristics, features, and even accomplishments of your brand, product, or service that you want to convey.

For these statements, it is good to begin them with “We.”

Keep in mind the marketing environment in which your brand lives.

For the sake of this topic I pulled some points from the Airbnb about us page.

  • We connect people to unique travel experiences.
  • We have sites in more than 34,000 cities.
  • We have unique travel experiences at any price point.
  • We are the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space.

Smells Like Brand Essence

Now we have the key ingredients to begin the development of our integrated marketing communications strategy statement.

While there are only four factors in each category, there is no predefined number of factors.

Established brands will have more factors to consider, while a startup… well, not so much.

And before I forget, this is totally out of order. Typically you would start with the Rational Factors first. This is information you would already know as the brand owner or marketer.

Then, through a bit of research, you would discover the Emotional Factors.

Let’s take these factors and put them into a Venn Diagram.


The purpose of the Venn Diagram is to illustrate the overlap in Rational and Emotional Factors.

Look for the common factors. Don’t over think it but don’t be quick to discredit factors either.

Here are the common factors for Airbnb;

  • We connect people to unique travel experiences.
  • I have more fun when I travel using Airbnb.
  • We have unique travel experiences at any price point.
  • I have more money to spend when I travel using Airbnb.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information to prove that Airbnb intentionally designed their logo or Belo as they call it, to look like a woman’s lady parts.

However, there is a carefully crafted statement that has been issued that skirts around the issue of how similar the Airbnb logo is to the Automation Anywhere logo.

That’s a topic for a different day.

The Finished Product

Let’s take a stab at taking these four factors and crafting them into one complete sentence.

Yes, one sentence.

Before you English and journalism majors get uptight, remember what I said earlier, the integrated marketing communications strategy statement is the single most pervasive thought of a brand’s essence:

I use Airbnb because they make travel fun, easy, and affordable by connecting me with unique low-cost lodging options.

This is only a first draft of this statement.

In practice, you would want to refine this into as poignant of a statement as possible.

The Secret Ingredient

Creating the strategy statement is a small but highly significant part of an integrated marketing communications plan.

Anyone can create a suite of complimentary marketing pieces and place them in as many traditional and digital media as possible. What makes an integrated marketing communications plan unique is the comprehensive, under-lying strategy that guides everything you do.

Your  integrated marketing communications strategy statement is an internal piece.

It is not a slogan and it is not a mission statement.

You can develop those pieces from it, but its true purpose meant to be shared with your entire marketing communications and design staff.

This is the cornerstone of your entire IMC plan.

About Jason Martin

Jason is an accomplished marketing professional. He has created marketing plans for multi-million dollar product lines and he has provided guidance and strategic direction on an executive level. He is also a hybrid entrepreneur, working as Chief Integrated Marketing Strategist for Ignite! an integrated marketing communications company, that he co-owns with his wife Kaneesha, and working as Director of Marketing for The Salvation Army in Nashville, TN. Jason is a graduate of West Virginia University's Integrated Marketing Communications masters degree program.