Poor Airbnb. The San Francisco company that is an online marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodations in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries around the world, recently launched a new logo. Airbnb took great pride in its new logo too, debuting a design the company felt would inspire others to social share, even emulate.
Unfortunately, the Twitterverse – and even a few business publications – strongly disagreed. Airbnb was criticized, analyzed and ridiculed. There were even viral videos created mocking the newly designed Airbnb logo.
Why? What happened? How could a company with a clear creative energy and a good sense of web design and social media engagement go so horribly wrong, seemingly, when it came to the launch of its new logo? Are there too many critics out there? Are people just…mean?
The answer lies in a fickle reality: Interpretation.
It seems Airbnb’s new logo was deemed ‘naughty’ by some critics and avid Twitter users who felt the new logo was similar in design to various parts of the human anatomy. Airbnb is now the subject of Twitter criticisms designed to humiliate and mock Airbnb’s attempt at a creative new look:
— REAL Brett Domino (@BrettDomino) July 18, 2014
Whether Airbnb’s new logo truly is a ‘logo loser’ or not – is up for debate:
Psychiatrists must be enjoying this. The new Airbnb logo doesn’t look even vaguely sexual. What is wrong with people? http://t.co/GhCE1wwylT
— Graham Hart (@editorius) July 18, 2014
Airbnb’s new logo is genius — even if it does look like a mash-up of human genitalia http://t.co/7x005SgNNR
— Salon.com (@Salon) July 16, 2014
TechCrunch is asking for visual remixes of it:
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) July 17, 2014
And many are pointing to another company already using a very similar, if not exact, logo:
— erik spiekermann (@espiekermann) July 16, 2014
But one thing is clear. Logos can make or break marketing campaigns and brands.
Here are 4 ways to avoid logo backlash:
In the creative process of a new logo, concentrate on the points that will help branding and marketing efforts – and solidify brand recognition. Keep to designs that are not – for all the wrong reasons – immediately humorous to anyone on the design team.
If one person has a view that is negative about a new logo design, take that view seriously. That individual may be speaking for thousands – or millions.
Remember, your new logo is going to be blasted all over your social media platforms. Your color choices are going to be evaluated. The way your logo plays out on mobile devices will be critiqued.
When you launch a new logo, millions of people will have the opportunity to judge it – and judge it they will.
A logo design for a business should not be left to one or even two people to approve. A logo, particularly one for a rising Internet marketplace with strong social shares, should be evaluated by a group of insiders. Creating a focus group of outsiders should be strongly considered.
Why not establish a contest? Show off three versions of a new logo design and let the Twitterverse weigh in on which design is awesome and which is just plain stupid.
At the end of the day, your logo is your creation, your branding. Your logo can serve as a representation of your company’s spirit, personality and mission. If you feel your logo is harshly criticized, support it! Don’t be afraid to find fun and effective ways to reposition your new logo in various colors or in creative social campaigns.
One person’s criticism could be another person’s compliment. Don’t be afraid to support your logo – it may just win over critics.