Hey, what’s up, guys? This is Brand Breakdown, and I’m your host, Matt Young. Brand Breakdown is a show where we take a company, breakdown its brand perception, and paint a picture of how people came to perceive it that way. If you want us to review your brand, drop a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s brand is Airbnb, the company that lets you turn your house or apartment into a bed & breakfast and where you can find places to stay all over the world while living with locals. You might also get a whole place to yourself depending on where you go. The concept of Airbnb is widely accepted now, but it was a wild concept beforehand that people would allow strangers to sleep in their homes for money.
The company started in 2007 and was tens of thousands of dollars in debt by 2008. They even sold “limited edition” cereal boxes to continue funding the company during tough times, which obviously is a far cry from home sharing. The reason why they ended up growing to the scale they’re at today is because they worked with YCombinator, a world-renowned business incubator. The only reason they even got into YCombinator is because they were able to sell those limited edition cereal boxes for $40 each. Essentially, YCombinator didn’t believe in the general concept behind the business, but they believed in the sales abilities of the Airbnb founders.
Once at YCombinator, the Airbnb founders were given the advice to go out and meet every single one of their hosts and get to know them before the company became too large to meet everyone, so that’s exactly what the founders did. They traveled between California and New York taking pictures of properties and speaking with homeowners about their experiences and gathering feedback from them. These testimonials paved the roadmap for Airbnb years later down the line.
The culture behind the executive team of Airbnb that built the company was persistence and the will to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. This kept operations going even when the owners had taken on tens of thousands in personal debt. In some ways, you could say this is why people have great experiences with Airbnb services, because the culture from the top down is so strong.
Airbnb provides accommodations for people all over the world, over 200 countries. Its most common cities are Tokyo, Paris, and New York City. The largest demographic that uses Airbnb is Millennials, who have made up over 60% of total rentals to-date.
On the hosting end, seniors are the most likely to be Airbnb hosts with elderly women having the highest average host rating of any demographic. There are a few Airbnb hosts who make 7-figures a year from their rentals. One even made 15 million in one year, and with numbers like these, you can expect high quality living conditions as more people compete to provide better experiences for their clients.
My favorite part about what Airbnb stands for is the message behind its logo, the Bélo: “the universal symbol of belonging” according to Brian Chesky, an Airbnb founder. In 2014 Chesky outlined the meaning of the logo:
“Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind. So to represent that feeling, we’ve created a symbol for us as a community. It’s 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.
It’s a symbol for people who want to try a new tea they’ve never heard of from a village they couldn’t find on the map. It’s a symbol for going where the locals go—the cafe that doesn’t bother with a menu, the dance club hidden down a long alleyway, the art galleries that don’t show up in the guidebooks. It’s a symbol for people who want to welcome into their home new experiences, new cultures, and new conversations.”
Airbnb has had its problems as well. In 2019, Airbnb had an ineffective property verification system which allowed for a fake listing to be created. At this time, the host could accept a reservation and cancel at the last minute while keeping a certain amount of the reservation cost. They could then re-reserve the original listing to a much worse and potentially run-down listing. Since then, the verification system has been revised to include strict specifications which would confirm the legitimacy of a listing with 100% accuracy.
If you like our content about branding, want us to review your brand, or want to work with us, please let us know in the comments or by emailing me at email@example.com. This has been Brand Breakdown with your host, Matt Young. Peace.