What does your logo say about your business?

Here is an interesting article I read yesterday that captures so much truth of why companies should invest in their logo. The Venturebeat article  Top designers react to Airbnb’s controversial new logo provides a snapshot into the often mystical world of corporate logo design. At Talooma, a digital branding agency based in Johannesburg and focused on the B2B market, we believe that companies should take a step back before developing their digital presence on the internet and first ensure they have a well defined company brand. Only once you have a well defined company brand can you extract maximum benefit from your online presence through your website and social media. The tip of the iceberg of the company brand, is the logo.

A bit of background

Airbnb was started in 2008 in San Francisco. It is an online platform that allows people to rent their homes out to travelers who are looking to stay over in a city but not in the standard travelers accommodation such as a hotel or guesthouse. If I have an extra room in my house, I can advertise it on Airbnb to travelers who can then come and stay with me instead of a hotel. Detailed online profiles of owners, together with ratings by other travelers ensure the system is all above board and safe. My wife recently used Airbnb accommodation on a trip to Paris, France!
Since its start, Airbnb has developed a bit of a cult following and, according to Wikipedia, now have over 500,000 accommodation listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.  Earlier this week, Airbnb announced a change to their company logo which has resulted in quite a stir.

The logo change


Old Airbnb logo
New Airbnb logo


It doesn’t take much to see why the new logo is quite “controversial” – just let your imagination run with that new logo shape and see where your mind ends up! But let’s not get distracted (or does Airbnb want us to be?). Here are my key take-outs from the Venturebeat article:

What makes for a great company logo?

Unique and different

If your company logo looks even slightly similar to that of another company, you are in for criticism. The logo is a representation of your uniqueness as a business – that what makes you special. If your logo is a copy of someone else’s, you are really saying you are un-original, bland and maybe even a little dodgy. Put in another way, your business looks like that guy walking into a room who clearly doesn’t care how he looks and what he wears. People tend to pull up their noses.

Go beyond the obvious

A logo should have symbolism and strike an emotional connection with the target audience. On this note, I often hear company owners in the B2B space say that their buyers aren’t emotional – they are rational business buyers. Nonsense! In the words of the marketing guru Phillip Kotler: Does anyone really believe that they can leave their emotions at home? A company logo acts as visual proof of a much greater intention to strike deep relationships with your customers.

Be visually beautiful

A logo should be eye-pleasing; graphically compelling. Admittedly, everybody’s tastes are different, but there is something universally appealing about simplicity, elegance, strong clean lines, curves and beautiful colours. Also, there are some very real, practical considerations: does the logo appear well in different sizes? How does it look in black & white? Can it be used in both vertical and horizontal space?
Ultimately the idea is to have a memorable logo that acts as a real symbol of your business. A mark of differentiation.

Ongoing marketing support

The company logo is only the tip of the iceberg. I see it as the full-stop at the end of a long sentence telling a great story. Without the full-stop, the sentence seems incomplete, but a full-stop on its own is just a dot. It has no context.  This is why a great logo should be supported by an ongoing, targeted marketing campaign that tells the story of your company to your audience – the target market.

Visual proof of your company identity

A logo represents something fundamental about the company – its culture, purpose and identity should all tie in with the logo. The new Airbnb logo signals the company’s uniqueness, the revolutionary nature of its offering, its community based values and the important role that fun plays in its offering.

An indication of the company’s vision

The fact that Airbnb is changing its logo also signifies that the company itself is changing. Airbnb is making a bold statement with its radical logo change. It might not spell out the exact details of the change, but there is no doubt that the company is signalling to the market that it is looking beyond its current product offering into a future that will look different. Airbnb leaves us wondering what they have up their sleeve!