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I put a lot of time and thought into it...I still got a C

almost 7 years ago from , Product Designer at SinglePlatform

Back when I was a sophomore in college I was taking this sociology class, and our final was this big paper. I put a lot of time and thought into this paper, but in the end I got a C. I missed the mark. I don't think I completely understood the assignment.

A lot of work and thought doesn't mean the final product will be good. Sometimes people miss the mark. Even big successful companies that I love. I'm talking about Airbnb's new logo. I think they missed the mark.

It's shockingly similar to https://www.automationanywhere.com

It does resemble private parts.

Their messaging is overly self important, and trying to assign meaning where their isn't any. Airbnb is an awesome service that let's you rent out pretty much anything, they don't need to try and define what "belonging" means or provide a universal symbol to represent whatever that idea is. It just seems like people are getting carried away. I don't know, maybe I'm just becoming cynical. And Airbnb isn't the first ones to try and make something out of nothing. "The Yo app is bringing contextual meaning through it's simplicity" No, it's an app that sends the word Yo. That's it. Maybe it's useful, maybe it isn't (I don' think it is, and I definitely don't think it's worth $1 mill), but this idea that it's more than that is crazy. Airbnb, Yo, and a lot of other startups need to stop trying to be all metaphysical about everything. Sometimes you're just a company with an awesome service and a bad logo that isn't solving everyone's existential crises.

Yes, I'm being critical. I'm the user, I'm suppose to be critical. Yes, I'm sure Airbnb and all the people who worked on the logo and branding worked really hard, and put in a lot of thought (perhaps too much thought). But just like with my paper in college, a lot of thought and effort doesn't always get you an A.

13 comments

  • Darth BaneDarth Bane, over 6 years ago

    Keep in mind that assigning emotion and meaning to almost everything is basically what a branding agency is all about. Airbnb didn't re-design their logo or site - they hired a branding agency to do this.

    The big branding agencies create from mood boards, emotions, employee thoughts, figuring out the psychology and philosophy of the company, basing all decisions on the subjective abstract conclusion they reach from all of this.

    That's why branding agency work is often more "grand" - they're not approaching it from a practical perspective. That's up to the client (or the client's digital agency) to solve.

    This is also why the new logo is what it is. The branding agency has stepped too far back and lost the individual's perspective. To them the logo means a hundred thoughtful things, but to a normal user the logo is just a logo with no meaning at all, leaving the mind to assign different meanings to the symbol that the branding agency originally intended.

    I've dealt with a few branding agencies, and it has always been a case of having to tell them to scale back on the abstract in order to promote functionality.

    14 points
    • Matthew SaforrianMatthew Saforrian, over 6 years ago

      I didn't realize they had hired an outside agency to do all the work.

      When I toured their office in March they had a conference room with the glass covered up. It was mentioned a rebranding was happening in there and that designers had been working hard at it.

      To me it appeared that a lot of internal people were working on it non-stop for a couple of months.

      0 points
  • Sam GarsonSam Garson, over 6 years ago

    Sorry, but I completely disagree. (Not with everything—you're pretty bang on with Yo...)

    AirBnB provides a quite intimate, even intrusive service for a lot of people all over the world. I think they've made a great move by creating a trusting and very much intimate brand for themselves. It's not at all about the logo or the website, the fact that they've put a brand and they're name on the concept of belonging I think is pretty huge for them, and will certainly be so in the long run.

    You're right, sometimes a critique which brings a company back down to Earth is entirely necessary and yours is a valid opinion, but in mine it's essential to distinguish when a company is being "metaphysical" (really?) for the sake of it, and when a brand has put deep thought into their brand in a real and valid way.

    Personally, I don't understand how you can say they're making something out of nothing when what they're doing is letting people invite strangers into their own home, and conversely letting people find a 'home' in a strange place, which is a powerful and dangerous service to provide.

    (For completeness: I literally only browsed their explanation of their brand, didn't read any of the copy. I genuinely think that the branding agency has done a pretty good job of letting AirBnB become even more of a brand, and not just an app. I'm looking forward to what they do with their new brand.)

    5 points
    • Louis EguchiLouis Eguchi, over 6 years ago

      The best way of understanding is through the video on their website.

      0 points
      • Sam GarsonSam Garson, over 6 years ago

        I'm pretty sure the video exemplifies quite nicely what I was saying. Granted they may have over dramatised the video slightly, but they've hit the nail on the head for the concept they're trying to achieve.

        Travelling is a scary thing for a lot of people, especially if you're travelling to stay in a strange place in a stranger's home. Creating a flag to fly which symbolises a universal recognition of acceptance and home values is a pretty great idea in my opinion, and will only serve to concrete their domination of their sector.

        0 points
  • Nour MalaebNour Malaeb, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    But they did get an A:

    airbnb A

    </silly>

    3 points
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 6 years ago

    I think it's a simple, recognizable mark with legs. I'm surprised (and also not surprised) by all of the armchair creative direction happening here.

    3 points
  • Tom WoodTom Wood, over 6 years ago

    A solid and mature reaction, to what I feel is an equally solid and mature re-branding.

    Airbnb have grown and their ambition has grown with them. It is definitely a poncy way of saying "look how cool our new logo is", but it doesn't take away from the fact that it's some work to be proud of.

    It's a brave new direction whilst staying true to their origins, and to say you're not keen on it "just because" is totally fair enough, that's your prerogative - I just feel that because we're all "experts" at design there is a knee-jerk reaction to almost every-single-rebranding that goes "nah, this is rubbish".

    So what if the message behind the rebrand is self-important, that's totally not the point. How does the logo make you feel? What does it make you feel? That's what matters.

    The Nike logo makes me feel excited, it makes me feel "speed", "slick", "strong".

    The Airbnb logo makes me feel "safe", "included". "progressive", "transparent".

    What does it make you feel?

    1 point
  • Laurie JonesLaurie Jones, over 6 years ago

    Refreshing to hear. Eloquently put, also.

    1 point
  • Katarina RdultovskaiaKatarina Rdultovskaia, over 6 years ago

    Im going to have to agree I landed on that exact same website yesterday, seems like somethings are better off simple in an increasingly technologically complex world.

    0 points
  • Keira BuiKeira Bui, over 6 years ago

    Totally agree with you. If their logo/service is great, people will get it sooner or later. They don't need to shout out to everyone and overdramatize about how revolutionary they are. I stopped watching Airbnb new logo video halfway because I didn't feel connected to it and I think they are trying to fix something that isn't broken.

    0 points