Truly inspiring story to share with you today - how Airbnb transformed from a simple accommodation platform to an $86.5 billion community-driven superbrand. The best part? I'll share the basics of a formula so you can do the same.
For two years (2008-2010), Airbnb was bootstrapping with creative strategies to keep the business afloat: maxing out personal credit cards and selling limited edition cereal boxes during the presidential election, for example. They also got accepted into the Y Combinator accelerator programme, gaining them a $20k investment too.
They did whatever it took to keep going, eventually raising a $7.2 Million Series A investment round to help them establish product-market fit across the world.
Once they'd reached this point, and with the additional funding and pace of growth, it was time to level up even further.
By 2013, Airbnb's original brand, which really only consisted of a visual identity – a rush job by Joe – was outgrown. But the company needed more than just a visual upgrade; it needed a brand that reflected the founders' vision and could support its exponential growth.
Since day one, the founders had let their customers and biggest fans help drive the business, so they turned to their community to discover what truly set them apart.
Immersing themselves in their global community, they uncovered a groundbreaking realisation: Airbnb's magic was never about the places to stay; it was always about the people and the sense of belonging they created – that was their true value.
This powerful insight is what shaped their entire brand, guiding them towards a new philosophy - "Belong Anywhere."
With "Belong Anywhere" as their compass, the entire brand narrative shifted from mundane bookings and insurance to warmth, welcome, and unforgettable experiences.
They applied their newfound philosophy to every aspect of their business, guiding decisions in HR, office design, social responsibility, partnerships, and acquisitions. They even showcased their commitment to their people during the pandemic, offering job support, an Alumni Placement Team, career services, equity, and 12 months of healthcare to those leaving the business.
Visually, Airbnb crafted the now-universally recognised 'Belo' symbol, aimed at transcending language and culture. Together, with the warm and welcoming colour palette, it embodied the open-hearted spirit of their community.
Airbnb's transformation has been astounding. Their community-driven approach led them to win awards, trend on Twitter, and surpass their closest competitor's (HomeAway) valuation by over $29 billion within just four years!
When they went public in 2020, their market cap soared to a staggering $86.5 billion, leaving giants like Booking and Expedia in the dust. And that was in the middle of weathering the pandemic - good evidence that strong brands are more sustainable.
So, how can you apply this to your own business?
The answer lies in embracing these three steps: immerse yourself in your community, find your true value, and build a brand that genuinely reflects your vision.
When it comes to execution: stay consistent, focus on storytelling, and always put your people first.
More on this below – go do it 💪
Discover your purpose, cultivate connections, and let authentic storytelling elevate your brand – that's the mindset that transforms businesses good to great.
1) Engage with your community: Actively participate in conversations with your customers, partners, and stakeholders.
Attend industry events, engage on social media, and create spaces for your community to interact – like forums or discussion groups.
By immersing yourself in your community, you'll gain valuable insights into their needs, pain points, and aspirations.
2) Identify your ‘True Value’: Analyse your product or service from the perspective of the impact it has on your customers.
Identify the unique aspects that set you apart from competitors, focusing on the emotions your brand evokes and the experiences it provides.
Collect feedback from customers and everyone involved to refine your understanding of the true value you offer.
3) Develop your brand story: Craft a compelling brand story that encapsulates your true value and vision.
Incorporate your unique selling points, the emotions you evoke, and the transformative impact your product or service has on your customers.
Ensure consistency in your brand messaging, visuals, and actions, and communicate your story effectively across all channels to engage and resonate with your audience.
Keep being an outlier 💪
J + K