When the new Airbnb logo emerged in 2014, it generated quite a lot of social media buzz. Lanks (2014) wrote that the larger online public “offered different interpretations of Airbnb’s ostensibly benign upside-down heart logo, which to some resembles breasts, buttocks, a uterus, a vagina, and, of course, male genitalia.”
I think you have to work pretty hard to say that it resembles those things, but I do think companies have to test their logos to see how well they are received. The company’s co-founder, Joe Gebbia said the company did test the symbol to see how it would resonate among different cultures and that the response was “resoundingly positive” (as cited in Lanks, 2014). Some are dubious, believing that Airbnb knew that its logo was up for interpretation. Kelion (2014) quoted DesignStudio’s founder, Ben Wright, “Yes, you could say there was a risk element in there, but ultimately the reaction from the community has been great.” If this is true, the launch of this “risky logo” was a calculated risk. Is going public with an open-for-interpretation logo is a strategy for going viral. Montgomery (2014) commented, “It takes a brave organization to deliberately embrace this uncontrollable potential, to launch design work that they know (or hope) will generate reams of copy and comment – both positive and negative – and will spin off into meme territory.” Is it too far-fetched of an idea that a company would knowingly launch a logo that could be misinterpreted just to create an Internet meme?
Kelion, L. (2014, July 17). Airbnb’s new logo faces social media backlash. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28343130
Lanks, B. (2014, Jul). The internet has spoken: Airbnb’s new logo looks naughty. Business Week, , 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1552835073?accountid=2837
Montgomery, A. (2014, Jul 17). Airbnb – the ultimate viral logo. Design Week (Online), Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1545697870?accountid=2837