Most of us do not care about brands, but when the brands make us feel something, we start to care. Great brands are those that advocate for important things. They do that because they have something they want to change. And as customers, we want to be part of that change.
Airbnb has a lofty ambition; it wants to make a change in people’s lives. Hence despite its early success, it went through a rebranding exercise to clarify its brand purpose, and communicate itself succinctly to its target audience.
Let’s take a peek into Airbnb’s brand strategy blueprint and see what we can learn from them.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a renowned travel website that helps people all over the world find, list, and rent lodging (from treehouses to castles). The brand is currently operating in more than 190 countries and 65,000 cities, with over 150,000,000 guests (as of April 2017). Therefore, there is no doubt the brand has grown significantly over a period of only 8 years. It is a great success story of the “sharing economy”. This makes many of us wonder how Airbnb became such a large organisation. The answer is simple: the brand has worked hard on its branding efforts since its inception, and is now a master in digital marketing!
It has managed to create a powerful combination of paid, earned, and owned media to sell the brand’s key values, mission, and objectives. In particular, the company’s “owned media” strategy is what has led to massive traffic to its blogs, social media, and website, hence resulting in its explosive growth.
With great ambitions, the brand was relaunched in July 2014 with the big idea “belonging”. The company spent immense amount of resources to communicate its brand purpose, both internally and externally. Its brand purpose not only has attracted more customers, but also partners and employees.
To reinforce the brand promise of “Belonging anywhere”, Airbnb centralized hospitality-education effort, set up an online community center where hosts could learn and share best practices. In addition, mentoring programs were developed wherein experienced hosts could teach new ones good hospitality.
The success can also be owed to the CEO and co-founder of the brand, Brian Chesky who lives and breathes the brand, well he still rents out his couch for $50! Brian once said “Our vision for Airbnb isn’t just ambitious. It’s historic. We want to be the next global super brand”. His is the brand champion and speaks widely to share the Airbnb’s brand philosophy to anyone who is willing to listen.
Today Airbnb has achieved phenomenal growth, and to penetrate the challenging China market, Airbnb launched the brand in March 2017 with a new Chinese brand name called ‘Aibiying’ (爱彼迎), which means “welcome each other with love”.
Lets take a peek at Airbnb’s brand strategy blueprint.
Three Key Takeaways from Airbnb
- A clear brand purpose – Having a clear brand purpose affects what you focus on. It affects how you carry yourself. It affects the quality of people who want to work for you, which is probably the ultimate game-changer. Brian Chesky and his founders were the brand champions and their focus allows them to form new partnerships all over the world.
- Cascade, cascade, cascade – To get the most leverage out of your brand, employees and partners (in this case the hosts) need to have an understanding of Airbnb’s brand promise and be able to deliver the brand promise.
- A brand strategy blueprint – You need to have a map before you enter the jungle, successful brands do not happen by chance. A clear brand strategy blueprint is the key to long term brand growth and sustainability.